In the USA, about 75% of people have suffered from hemorrhoids at some particular point in their lives. In fact, it may be argued that everyone has hemorrhoids which are the pillow-like clustered veins in the rectum and anus. They only become a problem when the veins get distended or swollen and get uncomfortable or itchy. But why hemorrhoids itch?
Hemorrhoids, commonly known as piles, are swollen veins in the lower part of the rectum and anus. They are associated with strained bowel movements and sitting too long on the toilet. This causes the interference of blood flow so blood pools and enlarges the vessels in the anal and rectal areas.
There are internal and external hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids are found in the folds of the skin around the anus while internal hemorrhoids are found in the rectum.
Why Hemorrhoids Itch?
When you strain while emptying your bowels, an internal hemorrhoid may be pushed out until it appears in the anus. This is known as a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid.
A prolapsed internal hemorrhoid comes out with mucus from the mucous membranes that line the lower rectum. This mucus may irritate the sensitive area of the anus and cause itching. If the prolapsed internal hemorrhoid remains protruding, mucus will continue to be produced, causing further irritation.
The itch can also get worse if the mucus mixes with stool. This anal itching is referred to as pruritus ani.
Other Causes of Pruritus Ani
Ironically, you can develop an anal itch because of being too clean! When you use wipes with chemicals, cleansers, or creams to vigorously clean your bottom, it causes irritation.
They strip the anal of natural oils and leave it dry to a point it develops cracks or tears so this causes an itchy and burning sensation. Other conditions that may lead to pruritus ani include:
- Leakage of stool
- Yeast infection
- Excessive sweating
- Anal cracks
- Genital warts
- Skin conditions like contact dermatitis and psoriasis
- Body lice
- Intestinal parasites like pinworms, threadworms, and hookworms
- In some rare cases, anal cancer
Additional Symptoms of Anal Itching
The symptoms that accompany the itch due to hemorrhoids include:
- Rectal pain
- Bleeding which is detected by seeing blood in the stool
Home Remedies for Anal Itching
This can be done in a bathtub or sitz bath (a shallow basin of water fitted over a toilet). Fill either of them with warm water and sit in it for it to soak your anus. This will help to improve blood circulation and heal the swelling. You can also add two tablespoons of Epsom salts or baking soda to make the remedy more effective. Find it on Amazon HERE
It is very helpful in easing pain and itching. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling. It can be applied directly to the hemorrhoids or can be found in soaps or wipes. Find it on Amazon HERE
Put ice in a cloth or paper towel and place it on your anus for about 15 minutes. It will help in relieving the pain of the external hemorrhoids. Find Hemorrhoid treatment ice pack on Amazon HERE
Aloe vera is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties so it will help in reducing irritation and swelling. You can apply freshly-extracted aloe vera gel on the hemorrhoids. However, do a patch test first in case it causes an allergic reaction. Find Aloe Vera gel on Amazon HERE
Softening stool will help in reducing constipation which is associated with hemorrhoid formation. It can be done using stool softeners or fiber supplements, for example, psyllium. Stool softeners are made in capsule, liquid, or powder form that you can swallow every day. Find it on Amazon HERE
Toilet paper can be harsh on hemorrhoids and may irritate them further. Soothing wipes made with anti-itch ingredients like aloe vera and witch hazel will help in cleaning without making hemorrhoids worse.
If hemorrhoids itch is affecting the way you live your life, consider any of the treatment options above, and remember to seek a doctor’s help if the symptoms get worse. Find them on Amazon HERE
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Treatment Options of Anal Itching
Anal itching is a very uncomfortable, even embarrassing experience so you may desperate to finally ease it. This can be done in various ways:
Over-the-counter creams that will help in easing the pain are available in your local drug store or online stores. They contain local anesthetic that temporarily eases the pain.
Your physician may also recommend the use of a topical protectant that creates a barrier for sensitive skin against irritants like stool. Examples of topical products you can use include Sensi Care, Desitin, Calmoseptine, Hydraguard, anddiaper cream preferably with zinc oxide.
Rubber Band Ligation
This is a procedure performed by a doctor to remove an internal hemorrhoid. First, a viewing device is inserted into the anus to locate the hemorrhoids. Then, a device known as a ligator is used to grasp and put a rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoids. This cuts off their blood supply; they die and fall off after about a week.
This is a surgical procedure to remove large external hemorrhoids or internal hemorrhoids that recur after band ligation. Incisions are made on the hemorrhoids and the distended blood vessels are removed. It’s a painful procedure so patients are put under general anesthesia. Recovery takes about 7-10 days and you can return to your normal duties.
It’s a procedure used by doctors to treat prolapsed internal hemorrhoids or bleeding hemorrhoids. A stapling device is used to reposition hemorrhoids to their original place. It’s painful so general anesthesia is used.
Treat the Clot
External hemorrhoids sometimes form blood clots which can be very painful. A minor surgical procedure can be used to remove the clots from the vein.