How to Treat Bleeding Hemorrhoids

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Hemorrhoids occur when pressure causes the veins or blood vessels in the anus or lower rectum to swell and become irritated. About 40% of people with hemorrhoids experience no symptoms. For those with internal hemorrhoids that are symptomatic, bleeding is the most commonly reported symptom.

Most of the time, hemorrhoids can be treated at home, but more serious cases may need in-office procedures or surgeries. Read on to learn how bleeding from hemorrhoids can be managed.

Low Section Of Woman Sitting On Toilet Bowl In Bathroom

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Symptoms of Bleeding Hemorrhoids

There are two types of hemorrhoids:

  • External: Under the skin around the anus
  • Internal: In the lining of the anus and lower rectum

Bleeding is the most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids. This bleeding usually is:

  • Painless (unless a prolapse occurs, in which the internal hemorrhoids protrude from the anus)
  • Bright red
  • Associated with bowel movements
  • Coating the outside of the stool, not mixed with it
  • Noticed on toilet paper and/or in the toilet bowl
  • A small amount but can look like more when mixed with the water in the toilet

External hemorrhoids are more likely to be painful but less likely to bleed. Bleeding may occur if there are complications with a thrombosed hemorrhoid (when a blood clot forms inside the hemorrhoid). This blood tends to be darker and more clotted than blood that is associated with internal hemorrhoids.

Ways to Treat Bleeding Hemorrhoids at Home

Hemorrhoids are usually treated with lifestyle changes, particularly dietary changes. In fact, increasing your fiber intake can reduce bleeding due to hemorrhoids by 50%.

Increasing your fluid intake is also important. Additional fiber and fluids can help prevent constipation, a common cause of hemorrhoids.

Brisk walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day and other moderate aerobic exercise can also help prevent constipation by stimulating bowel function.

Over-the-Counter Hemorrhoid Treatments

Over-the-counter (OTC) hemorrhoid treatments are effective in treating hemorrhoids. They should be used on a short-term basis, particularly ones with steroids such as hydrocortisone, which can have side effects. Some OTC creams, ointments, pads, and suppositories contain ingredients, such as the following, that may provide temporary relief:

  • Witch hazel
  • Lidocaine
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Phenylephrine

Always consult a healthcare provider before using medications for hemorrhoids.

Home Remedies

Ways to help relieve hemorrhoid symptoms at home include:

  • Warm baths: Try regular warm baths or sitz baths. A sitz bath is a shallow pan you sit in that usually fits over the seat of your toilet. Sitting in a bathtub filled with a few inches of water can also work.
  • Good hygiene: Gently cleanse the anus with a moist cloth or baby wipe after a bowel movement and pat dry. Avoid over-cleaning, using scented soaps, or rubbing.
  • Cool down: Use an ice pack or cold compress on the anal area. Don't apply ice directly to the skin; make sure it is covered with a cloth.

How Long Should You Try Home Remedies?

If bleeding does not stop after a week of home remedy treatment, contact your healthcare provider. Seek immediate medical attention if bleeding is severe.

Medical Treatment for Bleeding Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids usually respond well to conservative treatment, but more severe or complicated cases may require more intensive intervention.

In-Office Hemorrhoid Procedures

In-office procedures for hemorrhoids aim to shrink the hemorrhoid by creating scar tissue that cuts off its blood supply. These include:

  • Rubber band ligation: A special rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid. Within about a week, the banded part of the hemorrhoid shrivels and falls off, leaving scar tissue. This should always be performed by a medical professional.
  • Sclerotherapy: A healthcare professional injects a solution into an internal hemorrhoid.
  • Infrared photocoagulation: Using a specialized tool, infrared light is directed at an internal hemorrhoid, creating heat.
  • Electrocoagulation: A healthcare professional uses a tool to send an electrical current into an internal hemorrhoid.

Surgery

Surgery for hemorrhoids is generally an outpatient procedure with anesthesia. The person usually goes home the same day.

Surgical procedures include:

  • Hemorrhoidectomy: The surgical removal of large external hemorrhoids and prolapsing internal hemorrhoids that do not respond to other treatments
  • Hemorrhoid stapling: A procedure that uses a special stapling tool to remove the internal hemorrhoid tissue and pull a prolapsing internal hemorrhoid back into place inside the anus

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

While rectal bleeding is a common symptom of hemorrhoids, it can also be a symptom of other conditions, including ones that are more serious. Do not assume rectal bleeding or pain is due to hemorrhoids without confirmation from a healthcare provider.

Contact a healthcare provider if you have rectal bleeding and:

  • It is the first time you are experiencing rectal bleeding.
  • There is a change in bowel habits, weight loss, and/or abdominal pain.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You have new symptoms.
  • There is more blood than usual.
  • Your symptoms aren't responding to home treatment within a week.
  • You have concerns.

When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Seek medical care for rectal bleeding right away if:

  • Your anal pain or bleeding is severe.
  • You have abdominal pain.
  • You have diarrhea.
  • You have a fever.
  • You feel dizzy, light-headed, or faint.
  • You think it is an emergency.

Prevention of Bleeding Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can't always be prevented, but practicing the measures used to treat existing hemorrhoids may also prevent them, or stop them from getting worse. These include:

  • Eating a high-fiber diet with plenty of non-caffeinated, nonalcoholic liquids
  • Avoiding straining, such as during a bowel movement or heavy lifting
  • Avoiding sitting on the toilet for long periods
  • Using the toilet as soon as you feel the urge (don't hold it in)
  • Establishing a regular bowel routine, such as using the toilet at the same time each day
  • Using a pillow to avoid sitting on hard surfaces
  • Exercising regularly to stimulate bowel movement

Summary

Bleeding is a common symptom of internal hemorrhoids. It is usually minimal, bright red, and painless. Hemorrhoid symptoms like bleeding can typically be treated with home measures, such as increased fiber intake, but more serious cases may require medical procedures or surgery.

Always see a healthcare provider for rectal bleeding to get a proper diagnosis. If bleeding is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, seek medical care immediately.

A Word From Verywell

It can be frightening to see blood on your toilet paper, but if you see red, don't panic. First, talk to your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. If the blood is due to hemorrhoids, it will likely go away on its own or with simple home measures. If it's due to something more serious, your healthcare provider can diagnose and treat your condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are bleeding hemorrhoids serious?

    Bleeding from hemorrhoids is not usually serious, but rarely—if the bleeding is severe or long term—it may cause anemia (low red blood cell count). If you are experiencing even mild rectal bleeding and have not received a hemorrhoid diagnosis, do not assume it is hemorrhoids. See a healthcare provider to be sure.

  • Is bleeding normal with hemorrhoids?

    Bleeding is a common symptom of internal hemorrhoids, but you should not assume rectal bleeding is from hemorrhoids. See your healthcare provider if you experience rectal bleeding.

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9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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