Hemorrhoids, which are swollen and distended veins in the anus and lower section of the rectum, are never pleasant. In some cases, hemorrhoids can result in bleeding or pain when passing bowel movements, while others experience intense itching that only worsens when trying to relieve the itch by wiping the hemorrhoid.
Itchy hemorrhoids can be immensely uncomfortable and, at times, may be all you can think about, making them even more aggravating. Thankfully, itchy hemorrhoids can typically be remedied through at-home methods, making it possible for everyone to experience relief from the itch and allow their hemorrhoids to heal.
Why Are My Hemorrhoids So Itchy?
Hemorrhoids fall into two categories: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids reside inside the rectum, while external hemorrhoids exist beneath the skin surrounding the anus. However, in some cases, excessive straining when trying to complete a bowel movement causes an internal hemorrhoid to prolapse, which means it protrudes through the anus.
Itchy hemorrhoids occur when the hemorrhoid protrudes beyond the anus and collects small amounts of mucus and tiny stool particles. When an internal hemorrhoid prolapses, it can bring mucus that irritates the sensitive skin of the anus, causing itching. So long as the hemorrhoid remains prolapsed, the mucus production will continue, along with the itching. This may then cause an irritation called pruritus ani, or anal itching.
When stool mixes with the mucus, the irritation and itching can increase even more. Unfortunately, constantly wiping to try and relieve any itching you may have can make the itching worse, so it is best to avoid physically itching your hemorrhoids.
How Long Do Itchy Hemorrhoids Last?
Small hemorrhoids may only itch for a few days before they clear up. However, some individuals may experience frequent or long-lasting hemorrhoids, which then leads to longer periods of itching.
How To Stop Hemorrhoid Itching?
In most cases, you can provide relief from hemorrhoid symptoms, including itching, through home remedies.
Increase Fiber Intake
Fiber is consistently viewed as something taken to help your digestive system get going, and for a good reason. Fiber helps to soften stool, which makes it easier to pass through the digestive system, requiring less straining.
Not only that, but many foods high in fiber also help decrease inflammation of hemorrhoids, which can help ease itching since it lessens the chance of small bits of stool becoming trapped around the enlarged blood vessels.
When increasing your fiber intake, it is important to do so gradually as bloating and gas can result, which can be quite painful. You will also want to increase your fluid intake, which combines with fiber to soften stool and assist the digestive system.
For those who struggle to eat enough food with fiber, fiber supplements are another option to achieve the same benefits.
There are various topical treatments that can help address the symptoms of hemorrhoids. For example, certain over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams contain a local anesthetic that can temporarily numb the area, soothe any pain, and provide temporary itch relief. Other creams may help decrease inflammation of the hemorrhoids, which makes it less likely for stool bits to become trapped around the hemorrhoid, thus reducing itching and further irritation.
For those suffering from itching, witch hazel wipes are very soothing to the hemorrhoid affected area without causing any adverse effects. Witch hazel wipes can also be beneficial in ensuring no stool bits have become stuck around the enlarged hemorrhoid, which leads to itching.
For those still experiencing discomfort, applying petroleum jelly or aloe vera can provide relief and offer a protective barrier for the aggravated skin.
Go To the Bathroom Immediately
When you feel an urge to pass a bowel movement, it is crucial to go to the bathroom immediately. Waiting until a more opportune moment or attempting to “hold it” can cause stool to become backed up, which increases the amount of pressure exerted on the blood vessels and may cause more straining when trying to defecate. To avoid this, go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge, even if that means sitting on the toilet for a few minutes.
Moving your body is an excellent way to stimulate the digestive system and encourage bowel function, making it easier to pass a bowel movement and prevent stool from building up in the digestive tract.
Try A Sitz Bath
A sitz bath is a warm water bath specifically intended for the buttocks and hips, and it can help relieve itching and irritation of the sphincter muscle. For those with hemorrhoids, it is recommended to complete a 20-minute sitz bath after each bowel movement and two to three times a day separate from bowel movements.
There are attachments available to place on top of the toilet, but you can also sit in a bathtub with a few inches of warm water (or completely filled, if you wish) to accomplish the same effect. The warmth supplied by the sitz bath helps to promote blood circulation while also relaxing and healing the irritated skin around the anus.
Watch How You Wipe
Wiping after completing a bowel movement may not seem like a complicated matter, but doing it the wrong way can increase irritation and itching.
First, make sure that you are using regular toilet paper; using any scented or printed varieties can increase irritation to existing hemorrhoids. If you use wipes, be sure to use gentle wipes without chemicals. As recommended previously, witch hazel wipes are an excellent option.
You also want to be sure to wipe gently, as wiping too hard can further irritate the hemorrhoids and increase damage.
Do Hemorrhoids Itch Worse at Night?
In addition to itchiness becoming worse after a bowel movement, hemorrhoids can also be itchier at night when trying to sleep. There are various contributors to this phenomenon, one being that the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol is naturally lower at night, which may be why itching is more prominent. In addition, the position you are in may also aggravate the hemorrhoid, causing increased itchiness.
Why Won’t My Hemorrhoids Go Away?
In most cases, hemorrhoid formation can be attributed to chronic constipation and the excessive straining done to complete a bowel movement. These actions affect blood flow to and from the anus, which then causes the vessels to enlarge.
If you have hemorrhoids that won’t go away, it might be because you frequently suffer from constipation, which can cause continuous pressure on the blood vessels of the anus. Pregnant women also commonly suffer from hemorrhoids, likely because the uterus presses on the veins as it enlarges, affecting blood flow.
On the other hand, if your hemorrhoids won’t go away, you may not have hemorrhoids at all but instead another condition.
Other conditions that can cause anal itching include:
- yeast infection
- anal fissures
- stool leakage
- genital warts
- sweat buildup
- pinworm infection
- body lice
- hookworm infection
It’s also possible that anal itching is simply from not cleaning the anus well enough following bowel movements. On the opposite end of the spectrum, overcleaning the anus or cleaning it too aggressively can cause microtears, cracks, and dryness that may contribute to itching.
When To See a Doctor?
In some cases, a hemorrhoid can prolapse, requiring a doctor’s treatment. Possible treatments include rubber band ligation, hemorrhoidectomy, and stapled hemorrhoidopexy.
Besides surgical procedures, it is recommended to visit a doctor if your itching has not subsided with the at-home remedies listed above, as the cause of your itching may be something other than hemorrhoids, and a doctor can help determine what the reason may be.
Get Help from An Online Doctor
An online doctor, such as those found on the DrHouse app, offers a convenient and simple way to seek medical guidance on itch relief from hemorrhoids. With DrHouse, you can meet with a doctor in as little as 15 minutes, and when you are suffering from an itch that won’t go away, quickly meeting with a doctor means you can find relief faster.
All doctors you meet with on DrHouse are board-certified and qualified to write any prescriptions that you may need. If your itching is not from hemorrhoids, your virtual meeting can serve as a way to determine what other condition may be causing the itching.
Hemorrhoids are an unpleasant and uncomfortable condition that affect many individuals. One of the symptoms of hemorrhoids is itchiness, primarily due to prolapsed internal hemorrhoids that irritate the anal tissues with mucus and bits of stool.
Various at-home remedies can offer a solution for the itching, including sitz baths, topical treatments, and lifestyle choices. However, some cases of prolapsed hemorrhoids can cause extreme pain, which then requires a surgical procedure to treat the hemorrhoid.
It is recommended to visit with a doctor if at-home remedies do not provide any relief to the itch, as the itching may be due to something other than hemorrhoids. Online doctors are an excellent resource to meet with a doctor within your schedule, allowing you to quickly determine the cause of your itching and find some much-needed relief.
- Margetis, N. (2019). Pathophysiology of internal hemorrhoids. Annals Of Gastroenterology. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.20524/aog.2019.0355
- Mott, T., Latimer, K., & Edwards, C. (2018). Hemorrhoids: Diagnosis and Treatment Options. American family physician, 97(3), 172–179.
- Davis, B., Lee-Kong, S., Migaly, J., Feingold, D., & Steele, S. (2018). The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Hemorrhoids. Diseases Of The Colon & Rectum, 61(3), 284-292. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1097/dcr.0000000000001030
- Prolapsed Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Treatment, Self-Care, Recovery. (2022). Retrieved 16 March 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/prolapsed-hemorrhoid
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Enlarged hemorrhoids: How can you relieve the symptoms yourself? 2014 Jan 29 [Updated 2017 Nov 2]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279466/
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