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Amy is a Board Certified Family Health Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with over 15 years of experience working in Hospital Medicine, Urgent Care and Primary Care practices. Amy graduated Thomas Jefferson University with high distinction earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2008, a Master of Science in Nursing in 2010 and a Post Master's Certificate in Adult Gerontology Acute Care (AGAC) in 2014. She was recognized by the Elite American Nurses Association in 2013 for her dedication, achievements and leadership in the field Nursing. She served as a clinical preceptor for a number of Nurse Practitioner students and enjoys teaching the bright minds of future NPs.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins, which are found in the anus and lower rectum. Around 50% of adults over the age of 50 and 1 in 20 younger adults develop hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids often dissipate without the need for intervention, but they can cause pain, itchiness, and irritation. In some cases, hemorrhoids can also smell.
In this guide, we’ll explain why hemorrhoids smell and what you can do to prevent unpleasant odors.
Table of Contents
- Do Hemorrhoids Cause a Smell?
- What Causes Hemorrhoids to Smell?
- What Do Hemorrhoids Smell Like?
- How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoid Smell?
- When to See a Doctor?
- In Conclusion
Do Hemorrhoids Cause a Smell?
Hemorrhoids cause a range of symptoms, including discomfort, anal itching and bleeding. In some cases, people also notice a bad odor, which can be symptomatic of hemorrhoids.
Odor is not common. However, it can be very embarrassing and it can make people feel self-conscious. There may be an underlying cause of odors, or the smell may be linked to difficulty cleaning the skin around the anus as a result of pain or irritation.
What Causes Hemorrhoids to Smell?
The majority of people will not notice a pungent odor when they have hemorrhoids, but hemorrhoids can smell. There are several possible causes including:
1. Mucus Discharge
One of the most common causes of unpleasant odors is mucus discharge from the anus. This is most common when the hemorrhoid is substantial. If mucus seeps out of the hemorrhoid, you may notice traces of discharge on the toilet paper and detect a strong smell. Sometimes, mucus can also leak from the anus when you pass wind.
2. Fecal Leakage
Fecal leakage, also known as stool leakage, can occur when you have hemorrhoids, as the anus is unable to close fully. This causes a foul odor.
3. Poor Hygiene
If you have hemorrhoids, it can be more difficult to clean your anus properly. Cleaning is more challenging due to inflammation and pain, which can prevent frequent cleaning after bowel movements. Poor hygiene can result in traces of stools collecting, which causes an unpleasant smell.
Infected hemorrhoids are most common when an internal hemorrhoid prolapses. This causes the hemorrhoid to push through the anus, reducing blood supply. Infections can increase the risk of hemorrhoid odor. In very rare cases, flesh-eating bacteria can cause infections, which produce a very strong smell and may result in gangrene.
There is a risk of external hemorrhoids bursting. If a hemorrhoid bursts, smells may be detected if there is a blood clot. The odor may be strong and metallic as a result of a mixture of mucus and blood.
What Do Hemorrhoids Smell Like?
The smell of hemorrhoid odor will often depend on the underlying cause. Some people describe odors as fishy, particularly when the smell is associated with mucus discharge from the anus. In cases where smells are linked to poor hygiene and difficulty cleaning the anus properly after going to the toilet, the smell may be similar to normal stool smells, but it might be more intense.
If the hemorrhoid is infected, the odor is caused by chemicals that are released by bacteria. These odors are often pungent and rancid. In the very rare case of gangrenous infection, you may detect a rotten odor.
How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoid Smell?
It’s understandable to want to get rid of hemorrhoid smells. There are various hemorrhoid odor cures you can try, including:
The best way to keep hemorrhoid odors under control is to wash frequently. Bathing after opening the bowels can help to keep the anal area clean and ease pain and swelling. When you wash, make sure the water is warm, and avoid using scented and perfumed products and soaps. Dry your body with a soft towel and gently pat the skin around the anus dry.
Drinking plenty of water will help to soften the stools, making it less painful when you go to the toilet.
Use Anti-inflammatory Creams
Hemorrhoids are often painful as a result of inflammation. Using hemorrhoid creams and anti-inflammatory products that contain witch hazel or aloe can help to soothe the skin and reduce discomfort. This makes it easier to clean the skin properly.
If you have very large or painful hemorrhoids, or your symptoms have got worse and you’re worried that you may have an infection, seek medical advice. It’s important to treat infections promptly.
When to See a Doctor?
It is beneficial to see a doctor if your symptoms persist or get worse. If you have hemorrhoids for more than 7-10 days, or you’re struggling with severe pain, irritation, or itching, there are treatments available. It’s also important to speak to your doctor if you notice unpleasant, pungent odors or if you are concerned about infection.
Get Help From an Online Doctor!
If you are worried about hemorrhoids, or you’re embarrassed about unpleasant odors, don’t hesitate to seek advice and get help from an online doctor. You can get the treatment and support you need from the comfort of your home.
Online doctors can prescribe treatments and recommend self-help methods to help ease symptoms and make you feel more comfortable. Many people are reluctant to talk about hemorrhoids. Seeking help online can be less daunting for those who are apprehensive about seeing a doctor.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins, which develop in the lower rectum and anus. They are common, particularly in older adults. Hemorrhoids don’t usually require medical intervention, but they can be painful and itchy.
In some cases, hemorrhoids can cause unpleasant odors. Hemorrhoid smells may be linked to poor hygiene and difficulty cleaning, mucus discharge and fecal leakage, or infection.
If you’re concerned about hemorrhoids that smell, contact your doctor. There are treatments and self-help techniques you can try to manage hemorrhoids and prevent odors.
Seeking advice from an online doctor is an excellent idea if you find it hard to get out and about, or you’re embarrassed about talking about hemorrhoids. It’s important to remember that hemorrhoids are very common and doctors are there to help.
- Hemorrhoids, American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS). Available from: https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/hemorrhoids
- Definition & Facts of Hemorrhoids, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/hemorrhoids/definition-facts#
- Zhifei Sun , John Migaly, Review of Hemorrhoid Disease: Presentation and Management, Clin Colon Rectal Surg 2016; 29(01): 022-029, DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1055/s-0035-1568144
- Sashida, Yasunori & Kayo, Munehumi & Matsuura, Kenji & Kuwabara, Kazuaki & Samura, Hironori & Dakeshita, Eijiro. (2000). Rectal Gangrene. A Rare Complication of Infected Hemorrhoid. Nihon Kyukyu Igakukai Zasshi. 11. 285-288. Available from: https://www.doi.org/10.3893/jjaam.11.285.
- Symptoms & Causes of Fecal Incontinence What are the symptoms of fecal incontinence? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/bowel-control-problems-fecal-incontinence/symptoms-causes
- Bowel Leakage, UNC. Available from: https://www.med.unc.edu/ibs/wp-content/uploads/sites/450/2017/10/Bowel-Leakage.pdf
- Hemorrhoids, Canadian Society for Intestinal Research. Available from:https://badgut.org/information-centre/a-z-digestive-topics/hemorrhoids/
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