Have you been experiencing pain when passing stools, itching in your anal area, swelling or soreness in your bottoms, or bleeding in your stools? These are common symptoms for hemorrhoids, or piles, and can make the everyday affair of defecation a painful one. Hemorrhoids are the medical condition of swollen veins in or around the anus and lower rectum. Most cases of piles are minor and go away without further medical intervention. However, if the symptoms persist beyond 1-2 weeks, it is advisable to visit a gastroenterologist to rule out other serious problems and consider appropriate medical treatment to deal with the hemorrhoids.
Whether you are awaiting further treatment, or are advised to wait out the symptoms, it can be agonising living with the pain and discomfort of having piles. Measures that prevent hemorrhoids are also effective methods for piles treatment. These include having sufficient water intake, and not resisting the urge to empty your bowels. Apart from these, there are also numerous home remedies for piles you can try if you are already suffering from painful hemorrhoids:
- Soothing wipes
Toilet paper tends to be rough and may further irritate the tender sores on your bottom. Instead, try using soothing wet wipes to clean up after bowel movement. The moisture of the wipes serves as lubrication, so they are gentler on the skin. Look for wipes with witch hazel or aloe vera, as these have soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. However, keep away from wipes containing alcohol or perfume, as these are irritants that may exacerbate your condition.
- Take warm baths
Warm baths are a quick and easy way to soothe skin irritations. Harvard Health recommends a 20-minute warm bath after each bowel movement for effective results. A fuss-free way is to use a sitz bath, a small plastic tub that attaches over your toilet seat, by filling it with a few inches of water to soak your bum. After every bath, make sure to dry off thoroughly by gently patting with a soft towel or using a hair dryer. This prevents the accumulation of moisture that promotes the development of unwelcome bacterial or fungal infections.
- Cold compress
Application of ice packs or cold compresses are known to aid in pain relief and shrinking of sores. Hold the cold compress or ice pack against the affected area for up to 15 minutes at a time. To minimise the risk of ice burn, always wrap any frozen objects in a towel before applying to the skin.
- Stool softeners
To make stool less painful to pass, stool softeners can help to make bowel movements smoother and quicker. Stool softeners, also called emollient laxatives, come in various forms like powders, capsules, or liquids, and are readily available as over-the-counter medications.
- Increase fibre intake
Dietary fibre and fluids intake are crucial for promoting bowel movement, which reduces the need to over-strain when passing stool. Simple dietary changes or supplements can help to increase dietary fibre intake and relieve constipation. Some high-fibre foods to add to your diet include wholegrain-based foods, fruits and vegetables, peas, beans, and nuts. Take care to make these dietary adjustments gradually, as sudden overconsumption of fibre may cause excessive gas and bloating.
What to do if your symptoms persist
Piles are a common and usually mild affliction, but in rare cases where your symptoms persists, it could signal something more serious. Your doctor may recommend performing further checks such as a digital rectal examination and possibly a colonoscopy to give a more detailed diagnosis. If the condition requires, your gastroenterologist will advise you on appropriate medical procedures available to you, which may include rubber band ligation, or hemorrhoid stapling. It is recommended you make an appointment with a specialist in gastroenterology to access the needs of your condition.