Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are enlarged veins in your rectum and anus. For some, they don’t cause symptoms. But for others, they can lead to itching, burning, bleeding, and discomfort, especially when sitting down.
There are several types of hemorrhoids:
- Internal hemorrhoids develop in your rectum.
- External hemorrhoids develop around the anal opening, beneath the skin.
- Thrombosed hemorrhoids occur when an internal or external hemorrhoid develops a blood clot within.
- Prolapsed hemorrhoids refer to an internal hemorrhoid that’s been pushed out of the anus.
Both external and prolapsed hemorrhoids, as well as thrombosed external hemorrhoids, might feel like a hard pimple, leading some people to try popping them the way they would a zit. But is this even possible?
Technically, you can pop a hemorrhoid to release blood, but this isn’t recommended. Read on to learn why and find out other ways to get relief.
Hemorrhoids, even when they’re large and outside of your anus, are very difficult to see yourself. As a result, there’s no way to know what you are actually doing when attempting to pop one. This also makes it very easy to accidentally injure the delicate tissue surrounding your anal area. However, not all skin lesions around the anus are hemorrhoids. It’s important to not self-diagnose. This can lead to a delay in the proper diagnosis and treatment of other conditions, like anal cancer.
In addition, your anal area is exposed to lots of bacteria from both bowel movements and the skin. An open wound in this area, including the type that would result from popping a hemorrhoid, is very vulnerable to infection.
Popping a hemorrhoid can also be extremely painful, both when you pop it and during the healing process.
If you’ve already popped a hemorrhoid, it’s important to take steps to reduce your risk of infection. See your doctor as soon as possible so you can be properly evaluated and treated. They can make sure there are no complications. A sitz bath, which involves soaking the area in a few inches of warm water, may help with discomfort temporarily. Read how to do this.
After soaking for about 20 minutes, gently pat the area dry with a clean towel, making sure you don’t scrub.
You’ll also want to look out for signs of a possible infection and report them to your doctor. Signs of possible infection include:
- heat or redness
- swelling and inflammation
- pus or discharge
- increased pain when sitting
However, it’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid more complications and to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you’ve got a hemorrhoid that’s causing pain or discomfort, resist the urge to pop it. There are plenty of other things you can do at home for relief without added risk.
Start by gently cleaning the area and reducing inflammation:
- Take a sitz bath. This involves soaking your anal area in a few inches of warm water. For extra relief, add some Epsom salts to the water. Learn more about sitz baths.
- Use moist wipes. Toilet paper can be rough and irritating to external hemorrhoids. Try using a moist towelette instead. Look for something like these, available on Amazon, that don’t have any added fragrance or irritants.
- Use a cold pack. Wrap a cold pack with a towel and sit on it to reduce inflammation and calm the area. Limit the use of the cold pack for 20 minutes at a time.
- Avoid straining or sitting on the toilet for long periods of time. This can put more pressure on hemorrhoids.
- Use an over-the-counter product. You can also apply a topical cream to external hemorrhoids or use a medicated suppository for internal hemorrhoids. Amazon carries both creams and suppositories.
Next, try to soften your stools to keep your digestive system in good working order to reduce your risk of further irritating or damaging a bleeding hemorrhoid. Here are some tips:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid constipation.
- Eat fiber. Try to gradually add more high-fiber foods into your diet, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit. This can help to prevent constipation and irregular stools.
- Take a stool softener. If you’re constipated, try taking an over-the-counter stool softener, available on Amazon.
- Stay active. Physical activity can help lessen constipation.
- Add a fiber supplement to your routine. If you find yourself needing some extra help to keep things moving, you can also take a fiber supplement, such as methylcellulose or psyllium husk. You can buy fiber supplements online.
- Try Miralax (polyethylene glycol). This product is typically safe to use on a regular basis. It pulls water into the intestinal tract to help soften stool.
There are a variety of procedures that can be safely used to treat hemorrhoids. They often can be performed by your doctor in their office.
- Rubber band ligation. Rubber band ligation involves applying a tiny rubber band to the base of an internal hemorrhoid. This restricts blood flow, eventually causing the hemorrhoid to shrivel up and fall off.
- Sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a medicated solution into a hemorrhoid and has results similar to those of rubber band ligation.
- Bipolar, laser, or infrared coagulation. This method causes an internal hemorrhoid to dry up and eventually wither away.
- Electrocoagulation. An electrical current hardens the hemorrhoid, causing it to eventually fall off.
It’s important to confirm that any anal lesions or bleeding are actually hemorrhoids. If you’ve been diagnosed with hemorrhoids and they’ve become larger or more severe, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatment. Your doctor can help determine which procedure may be best for you based on the type and severity of your hemorrhoids.
These treatment options might involve general or regional anesthesia, as well as a potential stay overnight in the hospital:
- Hemorrhoidectomy. This involves surgically removing a prolapsed or external hemorrhoid.
- Hemorrhoidopexy. A surgeon will attach a prolapsed hemorrhoid back into your anus using surgical staples.
- DG-HAL (Doppler-guided hemorrhoid artery ligation). This procedure uses ultrasound to identify the blood supply to the hemorrhoid. The blood supply is then interrupted, causing the hemorrhoid to shrink. However, there is a high reoccurrence rate with this procedure with severe hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can be extremely uncomfortable, but trying to pop them can just lead to more pain, complications, and discomfort. It can also leave you at risk of developing a potentially serious infection or damaging delicate tissue. When it comes to hemorrhoids, home treatments are pretty effective. If you find that they aren’t working, there are also several things that a doctor can do to help.