Coping With Hemorrhoids

Millions of people get hemorrhoids each year. In fact, about half of all people will have them by the time they are age 50. While small hemorrhoids can clear up within a few days, for some people, hemorrhoids can become a chronic problem.

A holistic approach to care can relieve pain, inflammation, and other hemorrhoid symptoms without the need for drugs. With a few changes in the restroom, you might also be able to prevent your hemorrhoids from recurring.

This article offers a few tips for reducing strain and easing your bowel movements. It covers how to soften your stools so they are easier to pass, how to make sitting on the toilet more comfortable, and more.

Types of Hemorrhoids
Verywell / Emily Roberts​

Physical

When it comes to hemorrhoids, two of the most helpful things you can do are making stools easier to pass and keeping your rectal area clean.

Soften Your Stools

A high-fiber diet is a great long-term solution for constipation. But to get relief sooner, drinking prune juice can help by softening your stool. Prunes are high in fiber and sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol that works like a laxative.

You don't need to drink a lot of prune juice, though. Just one cup per day can work wonders, even if you are heavily constipated.

Drink extra water to stay hydrated any time you are drinking prune juice or using a laxative of any kind. You should be drinking at least eight large glasses of water per day (a half-gallon).

Avoid coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks. These can dry out your stool and can cause excessive urination.

Get Things Moving

One way to get your stool moving is to use an enema bag or douche ball. You can buy these from drug stores for $10 to $15.

Using either one, you can gently fill your rectum with warm water to ease out hard, pebbly stools. Just be careful not to overfill your rectum. Doing so can stretch out tissues that are already inflamed.

If you have an internal hemorrhoid, you need to be extra gentle. Use a water-based lubricant to ease the nozzle into the rectum. Never use a moisturizing cream or lotion, which can sting and cause irritation.

Whether you use an enema bag or douche ball, be sure to wash it inside and out, between each use (or dispose of them as directed).

Practice Good Anal Hygiene

It is crucial to keep your anal area clean, especially after you have a bowel movement.

A perianal irrigation bottle can help you gently clean and soothe your anal area. You can get one from the drugstore for around $10. Or, you can use any clean, squeezable bottle you have on hand.

Use the bottle to squirt warm water on the affected area. Then, clean your anus by dabbing it with a fresh baby wipe.

When bathing, avoid deodorant soaps or harsh cleansers, which can dry out your skin. Instead, wash your anal area with plain water. Go ahead and splash the water onto your skin or use a shower hose.

You will want to dab your skin dry with a clean towel next. Then, apply some aloe vera gel onto the hemorrhoid with a cotton ball. Aloe vera will hydrate your skin and help bring the inflammation down.

You can try pure vitamin E oil or coconut oil, too. But to be safe, avoid creams that have these oils in them. Other substances in the cream could bother your skin.

Recap

Good anal hygiene is vital. Always clean your anal area each time you bathe, and ideally after you poop. If you are constipated, drink prune juice or use an enema bag to move things along.

Practical

Making changes to your daily routine can help you feel more comfortable, both in the bathroom and out.

Take a Sitz Bath

sitz bath is a practical way to ease hemorrhoidal pain, itchiness, and inflammation.

The bath itself is a plastic tub you can purchase at the drugstore for around $10. It fits over the toilet bowl and is filled with warm water. Some people also add Epsom salt, witch hazel, or baking soda.

Sitting in warm water tempers the body's inflammatory response. In other words, it can reduce swelling and pain in your anal area.

Always clean the sitz bath before you use it. A solution of two tablespoons of bleach to a half gallon of water works great. But make sure to rinse it well afterwards.

Fill the sitz bath tub with warm, not hot, water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes only. Over-saturating your skin will not help.

You can also do a sitz bath in the bathtub. Do note, however, that it may not be as comfortable as using a sitz tub on the toilet.

When you're done, gently dab the anal area with a soft cloth until dry.

Use an Ice Pack

Since hemorrhoids are swollen veins that bulge from your skin, you can reduce swelling in them by applying an ice pack. This works in the same way that icing a sports injury does.

The trick with ice packs is to never place them directly on bare skin or leave them in one place for too long. Doing so can cause frostbite and may damage skin tissues.

Place a clean washcloth or kitchen towel between the ice pack and your skin and leave it there for no longer than 15 minutes. While it's OK for the skin to feel a little numb, you should remove the pack if you start to feel a sharp, prickly sensation.

If you don't have an ice pack handy, a pack of frozen peas wrapped in a towel can also do the trick.

Sit Comfortably

How you sit has a big effect on how well you recover from a bout of hemorrhoids.

Consider for a moment what happens when you sit on a hard surface. The pressure put on the gluteal muscles of the buttocks can cause them to spread out and stretch.

This, in turn, stretches the tissues in the anal and rectal (anorectal) areas, causing veins to swell and bulge even more. If you are prone to hemorrhoids, sitting in a hard chair for too long can even trigger them.

Do yourself a favor and either get a soft pillow or inflatable "donut" cushion to sit on. The latter prevents the anorectal tissues from stretching. Most drugstores have them for around $10.

Change Position on the Toilet

Try raising your feet with a step stool when you sit on the toilet. Bringing your knees above your hips alters the angle of your rectum. This gives stool a more direct route out of the body.

If you are constipated, you should also avoid sitting on the toilet for a long time. The wide opening of the seat promotes anorectal stress and can make your hemorrhoids far worse.

Instead, get up and move around to help stimulate the bowels. Or, better yet, take a long walk around the block.

Recap

Reduce swelling by placing an ice pack on the painful area. A warm sitz bath can also go a long way to ease the discomfort. If you're constipated, avoid sitting on the toilet for too long. Instead, try going for a walk until your bowels feel ready.

Hemorrhoids Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare professional's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Man

Summary

There are a handful of physical and practical steps you can take when dealing with a hemorrhoid. They range from drinking prune juice to changing how you sit on the toilet.

The goal is to make stools easier to pass, practice good anal hygiene, and reduce pain and swelling. If you find something that helps you, try your best to be consistent with it.

A Word From Verywell

The holistic approaches covered here are safe, simple, and don't require you to take any drugs. If your hemorrhoids are smaller and not too severe, these approaches might be enough for you.

That said, many over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are safe and effective options as well. If you do decide to try an OTC product but you're not sure which one, talk to your doctor. They will help you choose a product that works well and feels right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the best way to manage hemorrhoids during pregnancy?

    First, try to avoid constipation by increasing your fiber and liquid intake. You can also use stool softeners. Don’t delay when you need to use the bathroom, but don't sit on the toilet for too long. If you are thinking about using a topical hemorrhoid treatment, ask your doctor if it's fine to use while pregnant.

  • Can sitting make hemorrhoids worse?

    Yes. Sitting on a hard surface can cause the area around hemorrhoids to stretch, forcing the swollen veins to be further pushed out. Sitting on the toilet for a long time can worsen hemorrhoids too, as it causes blood to pool around the area and the veins to bulge.

  • Can you push a hemorrhoid back in?

    Yes. If you have an internal prolapsed hemorrhoid, it may bulge out of your anus. Sometimes, it will go back in on its own, but you can also try to gently push it back in place.

10 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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By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.