If you’ve ever experienced hemorrhoids, you’ll know they can be uncomfortable, itchy, and even painful. Itchy hemorrhoids can occur for numerous reasons. It’s important to understand what these reasons are so that you can reduce the likelihood of itching and prevent more damage to the rectal area.
This article will cover what hemorrhoids are, what causes them to itch, and some prevention and treatment options.
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Hemorrhoids are naturally occurring vascular tissues within the anal canal. Normally, hemorrhoids provide bulk to the anal canal to aid stool continence and prevent fecal leakage. However, in the context of this article, hemorrhoids will refer to the pathologic presentation of hemorrhoidal venous cushions.
Internal or external hemorrhoids can develop due to several factors. These include:
Constipation or diarrhea
Prolonged straining during defecation
Approximately 40% of individuals with hemorrhoids will be asymptomatic. This means it’s likely that they will not notice obvious signs or symptoms that affect their quality of life. Hemorrhoids can be misdiagnosed when someone is suffering from other anorectal diseases, such as fistulas and anal fissures.¹
Common symptoms observed will depend on whether the individual has internal hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids, or both. These symptoms include:
Bleeding, often painless and associated with defecation
Mild fecal incontinence
Pain (less common)
Painful perianal mass that is tender to the touch
Bleeding, often darker than bleeding associated with internal hemorrhoids
Painless external skin tags in the rectal area
Itching is a symptom of hemorrhoids. More common symptoms include pain or bleeding during defecation. However, researchers believe perineal irritation is primarily caused by mucous secretion or fecal soiling, both of which are also symptoms of prolapsed hemorrhoids.²
Other causes of itchy hemorrhoids include:
Poor hygiene around the anus
Inflammation around the anus
Excess rubbing (like abrasions from clothing)
Itchy hemorrhoids can be very inconvenient. Luckily, there are several ways to manage the itchiness that may reduce the severity of your hemorrhoids.
Soaking your bottom in a warm bath may help calm the irritation and pain caused by the hemorrhoids. The warm water can also help calm the inflamed area.
If you want to take the bath to the next level and boost the healing properties, try adding some mineral salts. The research surrounding them is yet to be conclusive, but some researchers believe they may help with skin softening and promote the healing of minor skin irritation.
Another way of relieving the itching and pain that comes with hemorrhoids is by numbing the area. You can try placing an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel on the anus area, making sure to remove it if it gets too cold.
Alternatively, lidocaine is a local anesthetic that numbs the area around your anus. It can be purchased over the counter in several forms, such as sprays, suppositories, and ointments. Lidocaine generally works quickly, and you can expect to feel better within the hour.
You can also purchase over-the-counter ointments and creams that may help soothe the rectal area. These include hydrocortisone creams, ointments, and suppositories. Hydrocortisone is a type of corticosteroid that helps with pain and itching.
Creams and ointments are usually applied externally, while suppositories can help with internal hemorrhoids. Read the leaflet before applying any topical creams to ensure you’re following the correct dosage.
If you’re currently washing your anus area with scented soap or shower gel, try a gentle or unscented option instead. These are often formulated for sensitive skin and may help reduce itching. You can also try washing with no soap and just water.
There are several ways to prevent any further formation of hemorrhoids. Non-invasive methods are generally lifestyle modifications, including:
Eating a diet high in fiber
Drinking sufficient amounts of water daily
Avoiding straining during defecation
Not sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
Avoiding straining or regular lifting during exercise or daily activities
If your hemorrhoids are not going away after a week of at-home treatment, it’s important to let your doctor know. They will be able to locate the cause of the bleeding, check if it may be due to other health conditions, and refer you for surgery if necessary.
Itching is one of the common symptoms of hemorrhoids, alongside pain and bleeding. There are several at-home methods you can utilize to numb and calm down the irritation in your rectal area. If you are worried about developing more hemorrhoids, you can make several lifestyle modifications to reduce your risk. If you are concerned about the severity of your hemorrhoids, it’s important to reach out to a health professional.
There are several causes of hemorrhoids, and they usually differ depending on the individual. These include straining or sitting for too long during bowel movements, having chronic constipation or diarrhea, and eating a low-fiber diet.
There can be several reasons for increased itching at night. If you like to sleep in a warm environment, sweat and moisture can accumulate in the anus area, potentially leading to an itchy feeling. Also, there’s often less to keep your mind occupied with during the night, which leads you to focus on the painful and itchy sensations from your hemorrhoids.
You should avoid picking or scratching hemorrhoids as much as possible. Over-the-counter creams or ointments can help soothe the area and make you less tempted to scratch, especially at night.
Avoid eating foods that are fatty or low in fiber, as this can result in constipation and longer durations on the toilet. You should also avoid lifting heavy objects until your hemorrhoids have healed.
Hemorrhoids | Medscape
Internal hemorrhoid (2022)
Why do hemorrhoids itch? | Los Angeles Colon and Rectal
Hemorrhoid itching | Hemorrhoid Answers
Anal hygiene: How to cleanup down there | Proctology Institute
Treatment of hemorrhoids | National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)