With an estimated 10 million Americans who suffer from hemorrhoids each year, half of adults by the age of 50 have experienced the disease once or more in their lifetime. One symptom that’s often mentioned is the itching or irritation around the anal sector. Whether it’s non-stop or a come and go type of itch, it can become tiresome and difficult manage when dealing with hemorrhoids.
So What exactly is a Hemorrhoid ?
Also known as piles, hemorrhoids are formed when a blood vessel becomes inflamed or swollen. They’re usually located inside the rectum(internal) or just outside the anal canal(external) While there are many causes for hemorrhoids, the most common include:
Sitting on the toilet for too long
Chronic ongoing Constipation
Overworked bowel movements(straining when pooping)
Other common causes may include:
Lifting heavy objects
A low-fiber diet
Broken down into two types–Internal and External.
Symptoms, such as low to moderate anal itching, tender hard lumps near the anus or anal-aches and pain when sitting down, are signs of external hemorrhoids. Typically thrombosed hemorrhoids, which have no blood flow due to a blood clot in the vein, are external as well.
On the Contrary, signs and symptoms of Internal hemorrhoids include little to no pain, dark to bright red blood spots on your toilet tissue or in your toilet bowl during restroom visits. Internal hemorrhoids can also cause a prolapse which is when the hemorrhoid pushes down from the rectum and sticks out pass the anal canal.
How do I know if I Have Hemorrhoids
You should visit your doctor to better determine if you have hemorrhoids. They can simply check for signs of external hemorrhoids by taking a look. For internal hemorrhoids, they will need to perform a rectal exam.
During this procedure your doctor will use a lubricated glove, and with one finger feel around for any big or small lumps. It may be difficult to detect these lumps, so your doctor may also do an inspection on your lower colon and rectum by using a proctoscope, anoscope or sigmoidoscope. If your condition looks complicated, they may refer you to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist or a proctologist for further examination.
Petroleum Jelly Hemorrhoid Treatment
In the time of peak itchiness you may be tempted to scratch away but not only is this unsanitary, it can also cause the hemorrhoid to burst or erupt, leading to further complications. For hemorrhoid itch relief, it’s better to try a more sterile and safer approach. One of which being a product called petrolatum or more commonly referred to as petroleum jelly.
Made up of minerals and wax, petroleum jelly has become a medicine cabinet staple and is used for many ailments and cosmetic purposes.
When using Petroleum Jelly for your hemorrhoid, use both your index/pointer and middle finger to scoop out a small amount. You then want to apply this portion first around the outside of the anal canal until its fully covered. Once the outer area is coated, you may insert a smaller amount at the tip of the canal. Avoid going deep and don’t apply too much petroleum jelly as this can stain your underwear. It can also cause an infection due to not allowing to skin to dry properly.
How Can I prevent Hemorrhoids ?
You can prevent future flare-ups by changing your diet. Increasing your fiber intake is one of the main ways to limit future outbreaks. Foods, such as grains, fruits, vegetables and beans will allow you to easily pass stools. Over straining while pooping, excessive cleaning around the anus and non-stop rubbing or scratching of the infected area can also re-inflame your hemorrhoid. If your hemorrhoid is caused by chronic constipation, your doctor may momentarily recommend you to cut out low-fiber foods all together.
Common low-fiber foods include:
Tough Meats(Steak, Beef and Chops)
Usually the hemorrhoid will go away on its own within 24-48 hrs. If your condition is internal, or has gotten worse and taking longer to heal, you should make an appointment to see your doctor about possible treatment options.