Internal hemorrhoids swell inside the anus, and external hemorrhoids swell near the opening of the anus.
While this can be an unpleasant condition, it’s generally not serious and can be treated with a variety of methods.
During a bowel movement, the anal tissue swells with blood to help control movement. When hemorrhoids occur, the anal tissue experiences increased pressure that causes excessive swelling and stretching.
Hemorrhoids are usually caused by increased pressure around the anus, and the most common cause of hemorrhoids is constipation.
Other causes can include:
- strain while making a bowel movement
- sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
- excess weight
Hemorrhoids can appear as hard lumps around the anus, and they sometimes need to be removed surgically.
Anyone can get hemorrhoids. About 75 percent of Americans will experience them at some time in their life, most commonly in adulthood.
If you’re concerned that your baby is experiencing hemorrhoids because of symptoms they’re having, you shouldn’t panic. Hemorrhoids in infants and young children are rare.
Since babies can’t tell you what’s bothering them, it’s important to be vigilant and attentive for certain symptoms to determine if your infant has hemorrhoids.
Although it would be an extremely rare occurrence, if you see swollen, irritated lumps around your baby’s anus, it could be an indication of hemorrhoids.
What are common symptoms of hemorrhoids for adults — and sometimes older children and teenagers — in an infant are likely caused by other conditions such as constipation or an anal fissure. These symptoms include:
- streaks of bright red blood in the stool
- mucus leaking from the anus
- crying during a bowel movement
- hard, dry stools
If you think your baby has hemorrhoids, you should get a diagnosis from your child’s pediatrician, as it’s likely something different. In some extreme cases, symptoms of blood in the stool may indicate a more serious condition.
Once your doctor has made a diagnosis, there are different approaches you can take for treating your baby’s pain and fussiness.
Since the most common cause of hemorrhoids is constipation, it’s important to monitor what your baby eats.
If your baby is breastfed, it’s unlikely that they will become constipated. If their primary food source is formula or transitioning to solid food has started, there is a chance your baby could become constipated.
Consult with your pediatrician about constipation. They might suggest additions to your baby’s diet, such as a small amount of:
- 100 percent apple, pear, or prune juice
- pureed peas
- pureed prunes
- multigrain, wheat, or barley cereal
In certain circumstances, your pediatrician might suggest an infant glycerin suppository.
Along with constipation, one of the conditions that might have you concerned that your baby has hemorrhoids is an anal fissure. If you see blood when you wipe your baby to clean up stool, chances are the cause is an anal fissure, not hemorrhoids.
In either case, bloody stool is a reason to see your child’s pediatrician for a proper diagnosis and recommended treatment.
An anal fissure is a narrow tear in the moist tissue lining the anus. It’s often caused by passing a hard stool. Anal fissures commonly heal on their own, but parents are encouraged to change their baby’s diaper often and clean the anal area gently.
With this in mind, some common and effective treatments for conditions in a baby that might be mistaken for hemorrhoids include:
- increasing your baby’s intake of dietary fiber
- having your baby drink more fluids to stay hydrated
- using soft, wet, nonperfumed wipes to avoid irritating the affected area
- using petroleum jelly to lubricate their anus during bowel movements
- moving your baby’s arms and legs gently to keep their body and digestion active
If the baby responds to these treatments, their symptoms can clear up within one to two weeks. If symptoms persist, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options.
Hemorrhoids can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, but are rare in infants. If you think your baby has hemorrhoids, have your doctor check your suspicions with an examination.
Since hemorrhoids and other conditions with similar symptoms are often the result of hard stools, it’s important to address your child’s diet, exercise, and hydration to facilitate smoother bowel movements with less straining.