While they are usually not serious, hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable enough to make it hard to focus throughout the day.
Remedies range from home treatments and over-the-counter (OTC) creams to medications and, in severe cases, surgery.
In this article, I’ll first discuss common home remedies and then OTC and medical treatments for hemorrhoids.
I’ll also explain how to prevent hemorrhoids, what they are, and when to seek medical attention.
Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids
Many common home remedies for hemorrhoids may help provide relief.
Warm bath with Epsom salt
Warm (not hot) baths can help soothe hemorrhoid irritation.
You can bathe in a tub or use a sitz bath, a small plastic tub that sits on a toilet seat.
Soak the area for 20 minutes after bowel movements or when the discomfort is particularly bad.
Adding Epsom salt to the water can help further ease the discomfort.
Using ice packs or cold compresses on hemorrhoids can help reduce swelling.
Do not apply ice directly to skin.
Instead, wrap ice packs or ice in a paper towel or cloth.
Use for 15 minutes at a time, as often as needed.
Witch hazel is a flowering plant that is often used for medicinal purposes.
It can help address itching and pain associated with hemorrhoids and may help reduce swelling.
Witch hazel is available in liquid form and can be applied to the hemorrhoid using a soft cotton swab, toilet paper, or a paper towel.
Witch hazel may also be found in anti-itch wipes, soaps, or creams, but read the label to ensure that the product may be used for hemorrhoid relief.
Like witch hazel, aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties.
While there is little scientific evidence about its use for hemorrhoids, aloe vera is safe for topical use and may help alleviate pain because it provides a cooling sensation when applied.
Only apply pure aloe vera gel or liquid to hemorrhoids.
Products that contain other added ingredients may cause irritation.
If you are allergic to garlic or onions, you may be sensitive or allergic to aloe vera.
If you have never used aloe vera before, use a small amount on your arm and wait two days to ensure that no redness, swelling, or irritation occurs.
Wiping with dry toilet paper after a bowel movement can worsen or irritate hemorrhoids.
Pre-moistened wipes can cut down on friction.
Some wipes have added witch hazel or aloe vera to provide soothing relief.
Avoid using anything on hemorrhoids that contains alcohol, perfumes, or fragrance, as these can be irritating.
You can also make your own soothing wipes by using dry cotton baby wipes soaked with witch hazel or liquid coconut oil.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
When diluted and applied to hemorrhoids, it may help reduce itching, pain, and discomfort.
Though there is little clinical research to support this, one study that combined tea tree oil with hyaluronic acid and MSM showed improvements for bleeding, inflammation, and pain compared to placebo.
Coconut oil is soothing and anti-inflammatory.
It can be applied directly to hemorrhoids without needing to be diluted, and can serve as a carrier oil to pair with other home remedy ingredients like tea tree oil.
Apply with a cotton swab or add to a sitz bath.
Be careful if adding to a bathtub, as the oil makes surfaces very slippery.
Loose cotton clothing
If you regularly wear tight clothing like spandex or athletic apparel, switching to breathable cotton underwear and loose cotton layers can help keep hemorrhoids clean, dry, and less likely to itch due to sweat.
If you already wear cotton undergarments, consider using fragrance-free laundry products to avoid perfumes or other ingredients that may increase irritation.
Over-the-Counter Treatment for Hemorrhoids
If hemorrhoids do not respond to at-home remedies, or you want faster or more proven results, consider OTC remedies.
Perhaps the most well-known option, Preparation H is an over-the-counter cream that can provide quick relief for hemorrhoid itching, burning, and pain.
Some hemorrhoid creams also contain hydrocortisone, which may help increase itching or swelling relief.
Do not use hydrocortisone consistently for longer than one week, as it can thin the already delicate skin around the anus.
Many hemorrhoids are caused by constipation: When hard bowel movements pass through the rectum, it can trigger swelling that leads to hemorrhoid symptoms.
OTC stool softeners like Colace or psyllium husk fiber can help to address short-term and long-term constipation.
When you are no longer constipated, eat a consistent amount of fiber, which helps bowel movements happen more frequently and effectively.
Hydration is also important in avoiding extra hard, painful bowel movements.
If you have never taken psyllium or other fiber supplements, start slowly and gradually increase the amount you take up to the product’s instructions.
If you start immediately at a full serving, it could worsen bloating and constipation symptoms temporarily.
Medical Treatment for Hemorrhoids
Rarely, hemorrhoids need medical treatment or surgery because symptoms do not respond to at-home care or additional problems, like infections, develop.
Medical treatments for hemorrhoids include:
- Prescription-strength corticosteroid creams to reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation.
- Nifedipine ointment with lidocaine to reduce swelling and treat hemorrhoids that have blood clotting.
- Rubber band ligation cuts off blood flow to the hemorrhoid with a tight rubber band. This leads to hemorrhoid shrinkage after a few days.
- Infrared coagulation uses an infrared light to reduce blood flow to the hemorrhoid, reducing swelling.
- Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a medication that shrinks the hemorrhoid by hardening the blood vessel walls.
- Surgical treatment options include excisional hemorrhoidectomy (surgical removal of the hemorrhoid under general anesthesia), stapled hemorrhoidectomy (surgically securing the hemorrhoid from protruding), and doppler-guided hemorrhoid artery ligation (surgically finding the blood vessel that supplies the hemorrhoid and cutting off its supply). These are only used when other methods fail to provide relief or if symptoms are severe.
To prevent hemorrhoids, try the following:
- Eat a diet high in fiber
- Get regular physical activity
- Stay properly hydrated
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time
- Don’t delaying bowel movements
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus or rectum that can cause pain, itching, burning, and rectal bleeding.
Hemorrhoids can be internal or external.
Internal hemorrhoids are not seen or felt, whereas external hemorrhoids are on the outer skin of the anus.
Most hemorrhoids resolve on their own after 1-2 weeks, but they may recur during constipation, after long periods of sitting, or after giving birth.
The main causes of hemorrhoids are things that increase pressure on anal and rectal veins.
These can include:
- Diets low in fiber
- Pregnancy and birth
- Weight lifting
- Anal intercourse
- Overuse of laxatives
- Straining during bowel movements
Other risk factors include:
- Having a family history of hemorrhoids
- Age (older adults are more likely to develop them)
Hemorrhoids can cause no symptoms, or they may cause many.
Common hemorrhoid symptoms include:
- Discomfort, especially when sitting
- Feeling a lump in the rectum or anal area
- Bright red blood after bowel movements
When to Seek Medical Attention for Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids usually clear up on their own or with at-home care; however, in rare cases, they require medical attention.
If you experience chronic hemorrhoid symptoms and bleed frequently with bowel movements or hemorrhoid irritation, this can increase the risk of anemia.
Internal hemorrhoids, which may not cause some of the common hemorrhoid symptoms, can have the blood supply cut off and lead to extreme pain.
If you have been trying to manage hemorrhoid symptoms at home for more than two weeks, see a medical provider for an evaluation.
If you notice rectal bleeding for the first time, with or without other symptoms of hemorrhoids, speak to a medical provider.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Definition and facts of hemorrhoids. (2016).
Aloe vera. (2022).
Efficacy and tolerability of hyaluronic acid, tea tree oil and methyl-sulfonyl-methane in a new gel medical device for treatment of hemorrhoids in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. (2012).
Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. (2009).
Treatment of hemorrhoids. (2016).
Hemorrhoids (piles). (2020).