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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.
No matter the occasion, hemorrhoids are never pleasant to have to deal with, and in some cases, they can be almost unbearable. It’s only normal to look for a way to soothe the pain you’re experiencing – which is why some look to use ice packs.
As with any inflammation, applying hot or cold temperatures can help to reduce it, but should you try it with hemorrhoids? You’ll find out all you need to know here.
Table of Contents
- Do Ice Packs Help Hemorrhoids?
- What Is Better for Hemorrhoids: Heat or Ice?
- How to Use an Ice Pack for Your Hemorrhoids?
- How to Make an Ice Pack for Your Hemorrhoids at Home?
- What Else Could You Do to Relieve Hemorrhoids?
- When Should You See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
Do Ice Packs Help Hemorrhoids?
The main question is, will an ice pack actually do anything to soothe your hemorrhoids? Studies show that the answer is yes – applying an icepack can in fact help to reduce the swelling as well as the pain you’re feeling. So long as you do it right, you can seek almost instant relief from this form of cold therapy. However, it won’t work for all forms of hemorrhoids; as it’s generally more effective on external hemorrhoids.
How Does It Work and What Does It Do Exactly?
Applying ice to a swollen area is nothing new, and it’s often used to reduce the swelling of any injury that you might have – not just hemorrhoids. In order for the swelling and inflammation to be reduced, the general blood flow to that area also needs to be slowed down.
Applying ice to the area helps to numb the pain and reduce your blood flow, which can feel like an instant relief to your injury. Of course, it’s not a permanent fix, but frequently applying ice can ensure your pain never becomes unbearable.
What Is Better for Hemorrhoids: Heat or Ice?
Cold therapy isn’t your only option to turn to when trying to soothe your symptoms, and heat may also aid you. Of course, unlike using an ice pack, you would have to find another way to apply heat. Patients can typically do this by either purchasing or creating a sitz bath to bathe in multiple times a day.
A sitz bath is an easy way for you to warm and relieve the pain caused by your hemorrhoids, and it can also speed up the healing process. While you would only be getting temporary relief, you can expect a quicker recovery if you’re bathing and applying heat to your hemorrhoid area multiple times each day.
Which is better may depend on your condition and the nature of your hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids are easier to treat with ice packs, and you should avoid using heat if there are any open wounds. However, internal hemorrhoids cannot be easily treated with cold therapy, in which it would likely be better for you to use a sitz bath or something of a similar nature. If you have any questions about it, it would be best to get in contact with a doctor.
How to Use an Ice Pack for Your Hemorrhoids?
Applying your ice pack might seem awkward at first, but you don’t have to do any extra work once you have it ready. Simply place your icepack on a flat surface, and sit on it. This way you can stay seated while the ice helps to reduce the pain and swelling. Sitting may be uncomfortable while dealing with hemorrhoids, and you can learn more about how you can sit without causing too much pain.
Note that you should be sure your icepack is soft or a flat gel pad, else it can be very uncomfortable to sit on, especially for longer periods of time. You should also make sure you’re not allowing the ice pack to make direct contact with your skin. Having breathable clothes should be enough to allow your swelling to reduce quickly enough.
How to Make an Ice Pack for Your Hemorrhoids at Home?
If you haven’t got any ice packs of your own, then don’t worry, as you can make your own at home. While they’re not going to be as easy or comfortable to use as store-bought ones, they’re quick and easy to make, and they will cost you next to nothing!
All you need is some crushed ice wrapped in a clean cloth. Again, make sure you’re not making any contact with your skin when sitting on it for extended periods of time, but it should do the job – although, these may be a little messier as the water can easily escape as it melts.
What Else Could You Do to Relieve Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are often uncomfortable to deal with, even if they only last for a short period of time. They may make it uncomfortable to sleep or sit, causing the person experiencing them to feel restless. If ice packs and sitz baths aren’t doing enough to relieve your symptoms, there are still a few things you can try.
Your experience with sitz baths may even be improved through the use of Epsom salts. While warm or hot water should be enough, adding a tablespoon of Epsom salt can further improve the soothing effect.
One journal suggests that there are multiple ways to soothe your condition other than those previously listed, including:
- Daily usage of stool softeners
- Maintaining daily exercise
- Fiber supplementation
- Avoid coffee and eating irritant spices
When Should You See a Doctor?
Hemorrhoids are quite common and will usually clear up within just a few days, but some conditions warrant a visit to your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you should book an appointment if you experience any of the following:
- Pain in the rectal area
- Bleeding from the rectal area
- Dark red bowel movements
- Your symptoms aren’t going away after various remedies
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a severe scale, waiting for a doctor isn’t your best choice – you should consider seeking help at an emergency room.
How Can DrHouse Help You?
If you’re dealing with hemorrhoids, you’re not alone – millions of people suffer from them every year. But that doesn’t mean they have to be a pain to deal with. With DrHouse, you can get the treatment you need from the comfort of your own home.
DrHouse is a telehealth app that connects you with a licensed doctor who can help you treat your hemorrhoids, as well as any other conditions you may be facing. With DrHouse, you don’t have to worry about making an appointment or taking time off work – you can make on-demand doctor visits that fit your schedule.
- Ice packs can provide instant relief to your external hemorrhoids.
- Multiple sitz baths each day may help to relieve pain.
- Wear breathable clothes when sitting on your ice pack.
- See a doctor if your symptoms are alarming or aren’t clearing after a week.
- Inflammation. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation.
- Qinglun SU; Xiyang ZHOU; Qin ZHAO; Hongyan WANG; Yonggang ZHU; Zhen LIU.Clinical research of cold therapy in treatment of inflammatory hemorrhoids. Chinese Journal of Postgraduates of Medicine ; (36): 19-21, 2012. Available from: https://pesquisa.bvsalud.org/portal/resource/pt/wpr-418973.
- Sitz Bath. Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/sitz-bath.
- Everything you need to know about ice burns. MedicalNewsToday. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322606.
- Everything You Need to Know About Using a Cold Compress. Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/make-cold-compress.
- Ohning GV, Machicado GA, Jensen DM. Definitive therapy for internal hemorrhoids–new opportunities and options. Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2009 Winter;9(1):16-26. PMID: 19367214.
- Rectal Bleeding. Cleveland Clinic. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/14612-rectal-bleeding.
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