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Hemorrhoids are a common medical condition. They’re sometimes called piles. They occur when veins in the anus and rectum become swollen.
While hemorrhoids often heal on their own within a few weeks, they can cause pain, itching, and rectal bleeding in the meantime.
Several home treatments and natural remedies can offer relief, including taking an Epsom salt bath or applying an Epsom salt paste.
Read on to learn how to use Epsom salt for hemorrhoids.
Epsom salt is different from the kind of salt you likely have in your kitchen. While they look similar, Epsom salt is made of magnesium sulfate. Table salt is made of sodium chloride.
While there aren’t many clinical studies to back up its benefits, Epsom salt has been used for centuries to treat a range of things, including:
- muscle cramps
These benefits are likely linked to the magnesium in Epsom salt.
Where to buy
You can find Epsom salt in most grocery stores and pharmacies. It’s also available online.
Epsom salt comes in different grades, depending on its intended use. To ensure you’re getting Epsom salt that’s safe for medicinal use, look for a “drug facts” box on the packaging or check to see that’s its “USP grade.”
There are two ways to use an Epsom salt bath for hemorrhoids. You can either add salt to water in your bathtub or use a sitz bath.
A sitz bath is a round, shallow basin that can find online or at your local pharmacy. Most fit over the rim of your toilet, but you can also place it in your bathtub. They allow you to soak just your genital and anal areas without taking a full bath.
A regular bathtub also works. Just make sure to clean it before use. Spritz your tub with some white vinegar before sprinkling some baking soda over the surface. Give it a good scrub and rinse.
To take an Epsom salt bath:
- Fill your bathtub with 4 or 5 inches of warm water. The water should be warm enough to dissolve the salt without scalding you. If using a sitz bath, add enough warm water so that you can soak the area without overflowing the basin.
- Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to the warm water. If you’re using a sitz bath, aim for a 1/2 cup.
- Lower your anal area into the bath and soak for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Rinse yourself and the tub. To avoid further irritation, pat dry the area instead of scrubbing.
You can do this up to three times a day. If possible, try to take an Epsom salt bath after you have a bowel movement.
If baths aren’t your thing, you can also try making a paste that you apply directly to the affected area.
In addition to Epsom salt, you’ll need some vegetable glycerin as well. Find some here.
To make and apply an Epsom salt paste, follow these steps:
- In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin with 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt until it forms a paste.
- Place the paste on a gauze pad and apply it directly to the affected area. Keep the pad in place for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Repeat every four to six hours until the pain subsides.
Mild hemorrhoids usually don’t require any kind of medical treatment. But if you’ve never experienced them before and have rectal bleeding, it’s best to see a healthcare provider for a formal diagnosis. They can rule out any other potential causes of your bleeding that might need treatment.
Also seek treatment if you start to experience intense pain. This may be a symptom of a thrombosed hemorrhoid, which happens when a blood clot forms in a hemorrhoid. Try to get an appointment as soon as you can. Throbomsed hemorrhoids are easiest to treat in the first 72 hours.
Finally, if you aren’t feeling any relief after two weeks, it’s best to follow up with a healthcare provider. They may suggest a procedure to remove the hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are pretty common and tend to resolve on their own. During the healing process, taking Epsom salt baths or applying an Epsom salt paste may provide some pain relief.
Just make sure to seek additional treatment if you’re in a lot of pain or your symptoms aren’t getting any better after a couple of weeks.