Healthy Living

What is an External Hemorrhoid?

What is an External Hemorrhoid?

Key Takeaways

  • Hemorrhoids can either be internal or external.
  • At times, the external hemorrhoids prolapse and move outside the anus. This usually happens during bathroom visits. 
  • One should maintain hygiene and make efforts to keep the anal area clean.

Hemorrhoids affect a large portion of the population. Statistics indicate that about 90 percent of the population will have hemorrhoids at least once in their lifetime. Hemorrhoids can either be internal or external. This classification is based on the location of the hemorrhoids in the gut.

External hemorrhoids develop in the anus. Since the anus has many pain sensing nerves, the external hemorrhoids are usually very painful and can cause great discomfort to the patient. At times, the external hemorrhoids prolapse and move outside the anus. This usually happens during bathroom visits. Whenever this happens, the external hemorrhoids can be seen and felt.

Causes of External Hemorrhoids

The most common causes of external hemorrhoids include:

  • Increased straining during the bowel movements which in turn leads to increased pressure within the lower rectum region.
  • Repeated occurrence of constipation or diarrhea may become a major reason for the initiation of external hemorrhoids.
  • Pregnant women are at a greater risk of the disease since the uterus places a pressure on their veins.
  • Low-fibre diet intake because these make the stool hard and difficult to pass.
  • Increased straining affects the flow of blood both inside and outside the anal region. This may lead to the enlargement and expansion of vessels in that specific region resulting in the pooling of blood.
  • Staying on the toilet seat for a longer period of time.
  • Poor posture
  • Anal intercourse
  • Being obese or overweight

Symptoms of External Hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids can be noted by these symptoms:

  • Itchiness in the anal region
  • Pain in the anus
  • Blood in stool
  • The development of lumps in the anal region

These symptoms may not come at the same time and will vary from person to person. The level of severity of the condition will also determine the symptoms that one may experience. Be sure to visit the doctor for an examination if you note these symptoms.

Thrombosed External Hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids can have blood clots making them turn blue or purple. Whenever this happens, the external hemorrhoid is said to be thrombosed. This can result in bleeding. External hemorrhoids are not usually a serious condition as they will go away in a few weeks.

If you have external hemorrhoids, then you can try these treatment options:

  • Sitting on warm water. This helps to restore the proper flow of blood in the anal and rectal area to help get rid of external hemorrhoids.
  • Applying ice to the external hemorrhoids. This should be done using a towel wrapped with ice cubes. This will also help get rid of the external hemorrhoids and reduce the pain caused by it.
  • Herbal remedies. There are many herbal remedies available for the treatment of external hemorrhoids. Some are applied directly on the skin around the anal area while others are taken as capsules or drunk as solutions. These include witch hazel and butcher’s broom.

If the pain becomes unbearable, then you may have to go for a surgical procedure. This is referred as a hemorrhoidectomy. This procedure is not always necessary unless the condition requires it. Alternatively, a patient can get injected with a solution. This injection is directly made on the external hemorrhoid and will make the hemorrhoids wither and die.

However, the most important thing is for you to prevent the development of hemorrhoids. Treatment can be expensive and the pain is not worth going through. You can prevent external hemorrhoids by eating a diet with lots of fiber. Fiber is essential since it helps in digestion and prevents constipation. As many already know, constipation is among the most common causes of hemorrhoids. This is because constipation leads to the development of pressure in the anal region. Fiber helps to soften the stool and this reduces the amount of force one has to use in the bathroom. For this reason, fiber should always be included in the diet. In addition, you should always drink sufficient amount of water. Just like fiber, water helps to soften the stool and prevent constipation.

Home Remedies to Prevent External Hemorrhoids  

  • One should not sit in the same posture for a longer period of time but if it cannot be avoided then regular breaks should be taken. The person may get up and walk around for a few minutes. A soft doughnut-shaped pillow or cushion can provide relief to the nerves and ease the pressure and pain caused due to external hemorrhoids.
  • Before initiating the process of bowel discharge, one can apply a small portion of the petroleum jelly just inside the anal region to make the process less painful.
  • Applying witch hazel (a natural astringent with anti-inflammatory properties) on the irritated hemorrhoids provide a soothing effect and offers great relief from the pain and discomfort.
  • Pain relievers like paracetamol, cold compresses or ice packs help in reducing the inflammation, uneasiness and pain associated with the thrombosed external hemorrhoids.
  • One should maintain hygiene and make efforts to keep the anal area clean. Therefore regular baths should be taken but excessive scrubbing of the anal region may increase the burning sensation and irritation. Hence, it would be better if the surrounding areas of the anus are gently wiped off with disposable wet wipes.
  • It is recommended by dermatologists and medical practitioners that after each bowel motion, the external hemorrhoids should be washed off with warm water. Sitting in the ‘Sitz Bath’ is an easy way and provides great relief.
  • Avoid sitting on the toilet seat for more than five minutes and be gentle and careful during the wiping process. Cotton balls, alcohol-free wipes or toilet paper can be used to facilitate cleaning. In case if the toilet roll or tissue paper causes irritation, dampen it before dabbing the area dry.
  • One should avoid performing strenuous physical activities. But if he/she is required to perform a task that requires exertion or pressure, then an even breathing process is suggested. Holding the breath during exertion causes strain and thereafter leads to swelling in the anal area.