5 Natural Home Remedies for Hemorrhoid Relief

Treatments to Help Shrink Hemorrhoids

Illustration by Joshua Seong. © Verywell, 2018. 

Hemorrhoids are swollen and distended veins in the anus and lower rectum. By age 50, about half the population has experienced symptoms of hemorrhoids, which include pain, itching, and rectal bleeding.

You are more likely to get hemorrhoids (also known as piles) if you strain or push during bowel movements or sit for prolonged periods of time on the toilet. Increased pressure in your lower rectum, from pregnancy or being overweight, can also cause hemorrhoids.

Fortunately, there are some simple remedies that can help ease pain and discomfort in the early stages of hemorrhoids:

1) Fiber

Several clinical trials have found that dietary fiber may reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, decrease bleeding, and improve other symptoms. Fiber from food softens stool and increases its bulk, which helps to reduce straining during bowel movements (straining increases pressure in the veins surrounding the anus).

In a report published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers analyzed seven previously published trials and found that fiber improved symptoms such as itching, discomfort, and pain.

Men should target 38 grams of fiber per day and women should aim for 25 grams (or 30 and 21 grams, respectively, for people 51 and older). Foods high in fiber include beans, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Here are some easy ways to increase fiber:

  • Add chickpeas, pinto beans, or kidney beans to your salads or meals. A 1/2 cup serving has approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
  • Eat whole fruit (including the peel whenever possible) instead of drinking fruit juice.
  • Switch from refined grain products to whole grains.
  • Try pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.

Fiber supplements such as flaxseedcarobglucomannan, acacia fiber, and psyllium may also help. Gradually increasing your intake of fiber helps to avoid temporary digestive side effects like bloating and gas that can come with a sudden increase.

Fluid should also be increased to help keep stools soft (otherwise, fiber can result in constipation or make constipation worse).

2) Ice Pack

Applying a small cold compress or ice pack to the area may help to temporarily relieve local swelling and pain. Cold packs should have a soft cloth or paper towel placed between the ice and your skin, as applying an ice pack directly to skin or for prolonged times may injure superficial skin tissues that are in contact with ice. Limit cold pack applications to a few minutes up to about 10 minutes at a time.

3) Sitz Baths

A warm water bath for the buttocks and hips, a sitz bath is said to relieve itching and irritation. Many health professionals recommend a 20-minute sitz bath after bowel movements. Some pharmacies carry small plastic tubs that fit onto a toilet seat, or you can sit in a regular bathtub filled with a few inches of warm water.

4) Witch Hazel Compress or Ointment

Made from the leaves and bark of a plant called Hamamelis virginiana, witch hazel is thought to decrease the bleeding of hemorrhoids by acting as an astringent. It may also relieve pain and soothe the itching and swelling associated with hemorrhoids.

Witch hazel can be purchased in liquid form and applied topically to the anal area using a cotton pad.

It can also be found as an ingredient in compresses, ointments, or medicated towelettes or pads (such as Tucks).

5) Bathroom Habits

Try to go to the bathroom when you feel the urge. If you delay going to the bathroom, your stool may become hard and dry, making it harder to pass.

Avoid straining, holding your breath, or sitting for too long when trying to pass a stool. Straining raises the pressure in the veins in the lower rectum, increasing your risk of hemorrhoids. Avoid reading on the toilet.

If you don't have the urge, don't try to force a bowel movement or sit for long periods, which can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus.

Wait until you feel the need to go before trying again.

Using rough toilet paper after a bowel movement can aggravate hemorrhoids. Look for extra-soft toilet paper or try using damp wipes (without alcohol or perfume) to help you clean the area without causing further irritation.

Flavonoid-Rich Foods for Prevention

Flavonoids are plant compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Diosminhesperidin, and oxerutins are citrus flavonoids, found naturally in oranges and lemons, that are thought to stabilize and strengthen veins and capillaries and reduce inflammation.

A study published in Techniques of Coloproctology found that a mixture of flavonoids significantly decreased pain, bleeding, and swelling and decreased the use of pain medication after 12 days of treatment, compared to a placebo.

An earlier report in The British Journal of Surgery analyzed 14 previously published trials on the use of flavonoids by people with hemorrhoids. Researchers found that flavonoids decreased the risk of bleeding, pain, and itching.

Other Home Remedies and Self Care Tips

  • The use of ointments, gels, and creams may protect the skin in the area, reduce itching, and prevent further injury. 
  • Zinc oxide cream or ointment is said to help when applied topically. Aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, or coconut oil can also be applied to the affected area.
  • While essential oils and apple cider vinegar are sometimes suggested, studies are lacking and there are concerns that they may irritate skin.
  • Sitting on a cushion rather than a hard surface may help to reduce swelling.
  • Stress may be a factor for some people with constipation and hemorrhoids. Consider mind-body interventions such as yoga, qi gong, and meditation.

If you experience bleeding or other symptoms, you should see your doctor to be properly assessed (rectal bleeding can be caused by other conditions) and to find out what treatment strategy would be most effective and appropriate for you.

A Word From Verywell

Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable and painful, but symptoms can sometimes be eased by making diet and lifestyle changes. While no remedy has been found to cure hemorrhoids, certain dietary and lifestyle changes and remedies may provide some relief and help you avoid flare-ups. Just be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your regimen.

Sources:

Alonso-Coello P, Mills E, Heels-Ansdell D, Lopez-Yarto M, Zhou Q, Johanson JF, et al. Fiber for the treatment of hemorrhoids complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of gastroenterology. 2006;101(1):181–8. 

Alonso-Coello P, Zhou Q, Martinez-Zapata MJ, et al. Meta-analysis of flavonoids for the treatment of haemorrhoids. Br J Surg. 2006 Aug;93(8):909-20.

Belcaro G, Gizzi G, Pellegrini L, et al. Pycnogenol® in postpartum symptomatic hemorrhoids. Minerva Ginecol. 2014 Feb;66(1):77-84.

Giannini I, Amato A, Basso L, et al. Flavonoids mixture (diosmin, troxerutin, hesperidin) in the treatment of acute hemorrhoidal disease: a prospective, randomized, triple-blind, controlled trial. Tech Coloproctol. 2015 Jun;19(6):339-45. 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.