A doctor weighs in on what can work at home and what can’t
Are you sick of running to the local pharmacy every time you need some relief from hemorrhoids? You might want to consider trying some home remedies instead! Natural remedies have proven to help shrink them down, but make sure you’re informed before you start treating these unpleasant guests at home.
“First, realize that hemorrhoids are a normal part of our anatomy. Usually, they do not cause pain.” says colorectal surgeon Jeremy Lipman, MD.
Dr. Lipman says that any change you notice around your anus should prompt an exam by your doctor to make sure nothing more serious is going on. Especially if you see blood.
Once you’re sure the symptoms are from hemorrhoids, there are many ways people may try to shrink them down. Some work well and some are harmful.
The best home remedies for hemorrhoids
Before you try home treatments, proper diagnosis is critical. “It’s important to see your doctor for bleeding, especially if you have never had hemorrhoids before,” Dr. Lipman says.
It’s after you’re properly diagnosed that you can start exploring these home remedies:
1. Sitz baths
Generally, experts recommend people with painful hemorrhoids sit in warm water for 15 minutes, several times a day — especially after a bowel movement.
“This is one of the best treatments,” says Dr. Lipman. A sitz bath for hemorrhoids is generally available at a local pharmacy. This small bowl fits right over your toilet and offers a convenient way to soak and soothe the area. You can also just sit in a bathtub filled with warm water.
2. Psyllium husk
Psyllium husk is a supplement that helps increase your fiber intake and softens stools to make them easier to pass. Be careful not to increase fiber too much, too quickly, as it may also cause gas or stomach cramping.
“Use this to soften stool and make bowel movements more regular. When your stools are soft and easy to pass, your hemorrhoids are more likely to resolve. Be sure to drink plenty of water if you take this supplement,” says Dr. Lipman.
3. Aloe vera
The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera may help soothe inflammation of hemorrhoids. Although research isn’t available for its use on hemorrhoid relief specifically, it has shown some benefits for other inflammatory skin conditions.
Dr. Lipman says this is safe to try only if it’s pure aloe (and not in a cream with other ingredients).
The worst home remedies for hemorrhoids
You may have also heard of these two home remedies for getting rid of hemorrhoids fast. Unfortunately, Dr. Lipman wants you to avoid these for hemorrhoid pain relief if you can.
1. Apple cider vinegar
Some patients say that apple cider vinegar can bring instant relief to hemorrhoids, reducing itching and pain.
“I don’t recommend using this remedy as it may burn the skin with overuse and exacerbate problems,” says Dr. Lipman.
2. Tea tree oil
Some people say the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil may reduce swelling and itching caused by hemorrhoids. Some early research found that a gel made with tea tree oil decreased symptoms, but studies are lacking.
Dr. Lipman recommends not trying this remedy as it isn’t well studied.
Always ask your doctor before trying a home remedy and if issues arise with any treatment, stop your attempt at an at-home hemorrhoids cure immediately.
Remember, to help treat and prevent hemorrhoids it’s important to eat enough fiber (25 grams a day for women, 38 grams a day for men) and to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. These dietary changes can make stool easier to pass and keep the problem from recurring.