Discomfort from hemorrhoids affects many people, caused by swollen veins in the rectum and anal area. While hemorrhoids become increasingly common as you age, they can affect you at any age. Some of those suffering with hemorrhoids may notice more well-known symptoms, such as pain or bleeding, but another common symptom of hemorrhoids is itching. Though hemorrhoids are rarely dangerous, they can be uncomfortable and impact your daily life. Below is a closer look at the itching and burning sensations caused by hemorrhoids and how you can relieve these symptoms.
This condition is caused by inflamed veins which develop in the lower rectum or anus. A hemorrhoid can be either internal or external, though some internal hemorrhoids will prolapse, leading them to protrude outside the anus. Symptomatic hemorrhoids can be caused by multiple factors, including excess strain or pressure during a bowel movement. Research has shown approximately 50% of people older than 50 develop hemorrhoids, though you can get them at any age.
Hemorrhoids can occur both inside and outside of the rectum, known as internal and external hemorrhoids respectively. While internal hemorrhoids appear inside the rectum, external hemorrhoids develop under the skin surrounding the anus. Both types of hemorrhoids can both cause pain, discomfort, inflammation and itching.
When excess strain is placed on the anus during a bowel movement, internal hemorrhoids may prolapse. When a prolapse occurs, the hemorrhoid brings a large amount of mucus with it, irritating surrounding areas and causing an itch to develop. If a prolapsed hemorrhoid is left untreated, it will continue to draw mucus out onto the sensitive and delicate skin of the anus.
In addition to this mucus, stool can aggravate hemorrhoids and worsen symptoms of itching. In many cases, poor or aggressive hygiene can worsen itching. Without proper hygiene, stool may remain on this sensitive area, worsening these symptoms. Conversely, while hygiene is an important aspect of improving symptoms, over washing or excessive rubbing can further irritate the skin and worsen symptoms.
Some patients may notice their hemorrhoid symptoms are worse at night. At night, you may be more prone to sweat or moisture collecting if you sleep in a warm environment. If you notice that your hemorrhoids tend to itch more at night, nighttime sweating may be a contributing factor. Both diet and nighttime use of the toilet can also affect nighttime itching.
There are two main types of hemorrhoids, including internal, which in some cases can prolapse outside the body, and external. Depending on the type of hemorrhoids you have, you may experience different symptoms. Additionally, internal, external and prolapsed hemorrhoids often require different treatments to effectively improve symptoms. Learning the differences between these hemorrhoid types and the symptoms they cause can help you seek proper treatment and relief.
Internal hemorrhoids develop within the rectum’s interior lining, meaning most people cannot see or feel them. Internal hemorrhoids may go undetected in many cases, as they are less likely to cause pain or discomfort. People may notice hemorrhoid symptoms if they often strain when passing a bowel movement. One main symptom of an internal hemorrhoid is seeing small amounts of blood in the toilet after a bowel movement.
If a hemorrhoid’s surface is damaged during a bowel movement, it may lead to bleeding, pain or irritation.
In most cases, internal hemorrhoids may itch but often hurt less, as very few nerves in the area can detect and sense pain.
Most people only notice a hemorrhoid if it becomes prolapsed, meaning it extends out of the rectum.
External hemorrhoids develop under the skin around the anus, which is more likely to cause painful symptoms because there are many more pain-sensing nerves in this area. While external hemorrhoid symptoms vary, one of the most common symptoms includes pain and discomfort, especially during bowel movements.
In addition to pain, some patients may notice inflammation and itching in and around the anus and rectum. Because external hemorrhoids form on the body’s exterior, they may look like small pink and tender lumps around the anus.
It is important never to rub or scratch external or prolapsed hemorrhoids to prevent irritation, as this can worsen symptoms.
When internal hemorrhoids protrude from the anus, this is known as a prolapsed hemorrhoid. Prolapsed hemorrhoids often cause symptoms similar to external hemorrhoids to develop. The protruding tissue of a prolapsed hemorrhoid is also likely to lead to irritation and itching. There are four levels of prolapsed hemorrhoids, including grades 1, 2, 3 and 4. Grade 1 is when there is no prolapse detected. On the other hand, grade 4 signals severe prolapse.
If hemorrhoids will not stop itching, you may want to consider the following tips and tricks to soothe irritation and calm symptoms.
One way to treat the itching caused by hemorrhoids is to follow proper hygiene and keep the affected area clean and dry. Proper hygiene is one of the most effective ways to reduce itchiness caused by hemorrhoids. If too much moisture is present in this sensitive area, the hemorrhoids will likely experience further irritation and symptoms will worsen.
Excess moisture can exacerbate prolapsed or external hemorrhoids, increasing the potential for significant complications or symptoms. In more severe cases, it can lead to continued irritation that may even cause bleeding. Many people experience relief from itching caused by their hemorrhoids by keeping the area clean and dry with unscented hygiene products.
If a hemorrhoid itches or burns, soaking the area in warm (but not hot) water may be an effective way to reduce these symptoms by calming the irritation that causes them. You can do this by partially filling your bathtub with enough water to cover the affected area and then adding epsom salts. Alternatively, you may want to consider a sitz bath, which is a convenient basin that can be purchased at most pharmacies and reduces the amount of water required.
Sitz baths can soothe irritation and discomfort associated with itching or burning hemorrhoids. Epsom salts, along with the warmth and moisture, help to calm irritated skin. Following a sitz bath to soak, it is important to gently pat dry the area to keep it clean and dry. Excess moisture after a soak can often worsen itching or burning.
While keeping the affected area clean and dry is critical, choosing the right hygiene products is also important. Many products contain added fragrance, which can worsen irritation and itching. When choosing a soap or body wash, you should look for unscented products to avoid irritation. You may also want to consider sensitive skin formulas, which are gentler.
When selecting fragrance-free products, many people only consider soaps, body washes or hygiene products that are directly applied to the skin, but you will also want to consider what detergent or fabric softener you use when washing your clothes. While your skin does not come in direct contact with detergent or fabric softener, it can still irritate the skin when you wear freshly washed clothing. If you are already using fragrance-free soaps in the bathroom, you may want to also consider a sensitive skin formula or unscented laundry detergent.
While resisting the urge to scratch may seem like an obvious step, it can be difficult in practice, especially in more severe cases where a person has been unable to find relief from constant itching. It is important to resist the urge to scratch, as this will only worsen discomfort, burning and itching. Scratching damages the skin further and prevents it from healing properly.
While scratching may bring short-term relief, it only aggravates hemorrhoids and their uncomfortable symptoms. If your itching is severe or negatively impacts your daily life, you may want to consider seeing a medical professional to seek long term relief.
Over-the-counter ointments and topical creams can temporarily help ease hemorrhoid symptoms, including itching and burning. Before starting any medication or treatment, it is recommended to check with your doctor first.
You can use these itch-relieving ointments multiple times a day if directed by the label or as prescribed by your doctor. It is important to avoid any itch-relieving creams containing steroids, as they can worsen hemorrhoids over time. Whether you are experiencing internal or external hemorrhoids, you should speak with your doctor to determine if itch-relieving ointments may be right for you.
When prescribed by a doctor, one of the more effective topical treatments to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms of hemorrhoids is hydrocortisone cream. Many lotions, creams and topical agents contain hydrocortisone, designed to relieve itching and pain associated with hemorrhoids. Hydrocortisone cream is often used for itching, swelling or other inflammatory conditions and can be used safely on the anus.
In many cases, hydrocortisone cream is one part of a hemorrhoid treatment plan to manage symptoms. Before starting hydrocortisone cream, you should check with your doctor to see if this treatment may be right for you. In most cases, hydrocortisone is paired with sitz baths, keeping the area clean and dry.
A cold compress can help numb the area and soothe uncomfortable symptoms. You can use an ice pack wrapped in a clean towel or cloth to improve itching and reduce the severity of uncomfortable symptoms. You should always avoid applying ice directly to the skin, as this can damage the delicate skin and aggravate hemorrhoids.
Cold compresses or ice packs can be applied several times a day to help minimize inflammation and improve itching and swelling. In some cases, patients may experience additional relief from applying both cold and warm compresses interchangeably. Numbing the area can reduce itching sensations and help patients resist the urge to scratch.
An unscented medicated wipe may also relieve various hemorrhoid symptoms, such as itching or pain. Medicated wipes can be found at most pharmacies and are simple and easy to use. Before applying a medicated wipe, it is important to clean the affected region properly. The medicated pad can then be used to gently wipe or pat the area to transfer medication.
It is very important to avoid rubbing the affected area or being too rough. Continual rubbing or being too harsh when applying a medicated wipe can aggravate hemorrhoids and worsen symptoms. In many cases, patients can use a medicated wipe after a bowel movement once the area has been properly cleaned.
Protecting the affected area from further irritants can also be an important step in reducing itching and uncomfortable symptoms. Your doctor may recommend using a special protectant to soothe the irritated area and protect it from stool during a bowel movement, which can irritate sensitive skin. A protectant helps create a safe barrier between sensitive skin and potential irritants.
Seeing a doctor can help you find long term relief from uncomfortable symptoms and treat the cause of your hemorrhoids. Professional medical attention is also helpful for more severe cases of hemorrhoids where a patient struggles to find relief from itching, burning or pain. In some cases, a doctor can diagnose hemorrhoids with a visual inspection. In other cases, a digital examination may be needed to effectively assess and evaluate hemorrhoids.
The CRH O’Regan System is an innovative non-surgical hemorrhoid treatment that can provide lasting relief from hemorrhoid symptoms. The O’Regan treatment is a quick, easy and painless treatment option. The procedure only takes a minute to perform and is highly effective, allowing patients to resume normal activity the same day as treatment.
Find a clinic with a physician trained to treat hemorrhoids using the CRH O’Regan System near you and get started with your hemorrhoid treatment today.