Hemorrhoids are common, but they can be an embarrassing health problem. The good news is, you can treat your hemorrhoids at home. However, not all home remedies for hemorrhoids work as well as some internet sites may claim.
Dr. Betsy Clemens, our board-certified family physician at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in St. Louis, Missouri, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hemorrhoids and wants to share some of the myths and facts about home remedies so you can get the relief you need without making things worse.
Myth: All I need is a fiber supplement
Fact: Fiber is an important part of your at-home hemorrhoid treatment plan, but not from a pill or powder
Though a fiber supplement may soften your stool and alleviate constipation that causes hemorrhoids, we recommend you focus on food for fiber instead of a supplement. Adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet may help keep things regular, preventing a recurrence of your hemorrhoids. Additionally, many healthy, high-fiber foods contain other nutrients that benefit your health overall.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, and peas are excellent sources of fiber. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says women need 25 grams of fiber a day and men 38 grams.
When adding fiber to your diet, whether from food or a supplement, be sure to drink plenty of water. Upping your fiber intake without enough fluids may exacerbate your constipation and worsen your anal discomfort. For general health, the Mayo Clinic recommends women drink 11.5 cups of water a day and men 15.5 cups.
Myth: Apple cider vinegar cures hemorrhoids
Fact: Apple cider vinegar can’t cure your hemorrhoids
From weight loss to diabetes, apple cider vinegar seems to be the cure-all for whatever ails you, including hemorrhoids. Proponents of the home remedy claim that it provides instant relief from anal pain and itching. However, the Cleveland Clinic warns that the acidity of the apple cider vinegar may worsen your condition and increase inflammation and pain.
If you’re looking for a home remedy to alleviate pain and itching, we recommend a sitz bath (soaking your bottom in warm water for 15-20 minutes) several times a day. You can soak in your tub or invest in a sitz bath kit, which fits right over your toilet bowl.
Myth: Tea tree oil relieves anal itching
Fact: Tea tree oil is unlikely to provide any relief from your anal itchiness
Also called melaleuca oil, people claim tea tree oil has antibacterial properties and they recommended it for the treatment of many common conditions, including acne and lice. For hemorrhoids, they profess that the topical antibacterial agent reduces itching and swelling. However, there’s little evidence to support these claims, and as a result, we don’t recommend using tea tree oil for your hemorrhoids.
To alleviate the pain and itching, we recommend you try witch hazel or over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or medicated wipes.
Though at-home remedies can be effective treatments for hemorrhoids, it’s important to know the difference between myth and fact. In addition, if your symptoms persist after a week of DIY treatments, or if you have rectal bleeding, we recommend you schedule an appointment so we can step up the treatment regimen. Give us a call at 636-228-3136 or contact us online today.