Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your lower rectum and anus. They often result from pressure placed on the veins when you strain during bowel movements. Hemorrhoids are a very common condition.
Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. When an internal hemorrhoid prolapses (bulges outward) through the anus, it can bring with it mucus that can aggravate the irritation and cause itching. Passing stool can also cause further irritation and make the itching even worse.
You may be able to relieve the itching and help heal your hemorrhoids using home remedies. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to be an effective home remedy for a number of conditions. But can it work for hemorrhoids? Read on to learn the research and ways to treat hemorrhoids at home.
Apple cider vinegar has been a popular folk remedy for years. Recently, it’s become increasingly popular on the internet as a home remedy for just about anything.
It’s made by fermenting the sugar from apples using a two-step process that turns the sugars into acetic acid. That’s the active ingredient in vinegar.
Acetic acid is astringent. Astringents shrink organic tissues, such as skin. Apple cider vinegar has also been shown to have antibacterial properties, which may help certain skin conditions.
Proponents claim apple cider vinegar may suppress inflammation, too. So, theoretically, it may relieve the swelling and irritation of hemorrhoids.
Anecdotal evidence suggests apple cider vinegar provides immediate relief from pain and itching caused by hemorrhoids. However, there’s no scientific evidence available to back this up.
Experts also warn that apple cider vinegar applied directly to the skin could cause further irritation and burns. There’s been cases of apple cider vinegar causing chemical burns when applied to the skin.
While apple cider vinegar may be a useful home remedy for some conditions, applying it directly to your skin as a remedy for hemorrhoids — whether internal, external, or from pregnancy — isn’t recommended. There are safer and more effective treatments available.
Diluting apple cider vinegar with water can reduce the risk of skin irritation and burns. It may provide some relief from itchy hemorrhoids.
You can dilute apple cider vinegar with water and freeze it in an ice cube tray. If nothing else, the cold might feel good against your skin. It may help reduce pain, swelling, and itching, even if just temporarily.
If you’d like to give apple cider vinegar a try on your hemorrhoids, you can also try soaking in a warm apple cider vinegar bath. Just add 2 cups of the vinegar to a tubful of warm — not hot — water, and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Take a shower to rinse your skin when you’re done.
Ready to try? Purchase apple cider vinegar here.
The following are other home remedies for hemorrhoids. These options are more likely to provide relief as well as shrink the hemorrhoids without causing burns or worsening symptoms.
Experts commonly recommend this treatment for hemorrhoids. Simply sit in warm water for 15 minutes several times a day, especially after a bowel movement.
A sitz bath is a small bowl that fits over your toilet. You can purchase a sitz bath online or at a drugstore. You can also use your bathtub and sit in shallow, warm water.
Epsom salt and glycerin
You can make a paste to apply directly to your hemorrhoids for relief.
Here’s how to do it:
- Mix equal parts Epsom salt and glycerin to create a paste (2 tablespoons of each should be enough).
- Apply the paste to a gauze pad and place it where you’re feeling discomfort.
- Leave on for 20 minutes.
- Repeat every six hours until your pain improves.
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce swelling and improve the pain of hemorrhoids.
Though there’s no evidence on its use for hemorrhoids specifically, aloe vera has been found to be effective in the treatment of other inflammatory skin conditions and wound healing.
Be sure to use pure aloe vera. Avoid using creams that may contain other ingredients that could cause irritation.
There’s that witch hazel has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent properties. Although there’s no research available on using witch hazel as a hemorrhoid remedy, these properties may help relieve pain, itching, and swelling without making things worse.
Want to try witch hazel? You can buy it here.
A psyllium supplement, such as Metamucil, adds fiber to your diet and softens your stools so they’re easier to pass.
This won’t give you instant relief from your hemorrhoid symptoms, but it will help with constipation and hard stools that can cause or worsen hemorrhoids.
If you’re going to try a psyllium husk supplement, make sure to increase your intake gradually. Drink plenty of water to avoid gas, bloating, and other issues.
If you’re sure hemorrhoids are causing your symptoms, see your doctor if home remedies don’t provide relief after a week. Also see your doctor if your pain is severe or if your hemorrhoids bleed frequently.
While pain and bleeding during bowel movements are the most common symptoms of hemorrhoids, other serious conditions can also cause these symptoms.
If you’re not sure you have hemorrhoids, don’t assume your symptoms are due to hemorrhoids. See your doctor for a diagnosis.
Seek emergency care for excessive rectal bleeding or bleeding that’s accompanied by dizziness or light-headedness.
Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that may help certain skin conditions. It also has other health benefits related to cholesterol, heart health, and diabetes.
But when it comes to apple cider vinegar as a treatment for hemorrhoids, you’re better off using a home remedy that won’t burn or irritate your skin.