Aside from being annoying, hemorrhoids (swollen veins in the rectum) can be painful and itchy. If you have hemorrhoids, you may be able to feel small lumpy pieces of skin outside of your anus (opening where your bowel movements leave the body) when you wipe yourself, but sometimes the hemorrhoids are on the inside of the rectum. They are usually caused from being constipated (unable to have a bowel movement). An anal fissure is a tear in the lining of the anus which is most often caused by having hard, dry bowel movements. If you have hemorrhoids, an anal fissure or both, you may notice a little blood when you wipe after a bowel movement. Other problems can cause bleeding too, so it’s important to tell your health care provider.
Hemorrhoids and anal fissures are usually treated with diet (eating foods high in fiber such as fruits, veggies and whole grains) taking an over-the-counter stool softener and using creams or ointments especially for hemorrhoids. It can also help to soak your bottom in 2-3 inches of warm water for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a day. Your health care provider may refer to these soaks as “sitz baths”.
Surgery is rarely needed and should only be considered by you and your health care provider if the treatments described above don’t work.