While we might all be curious about the best plunger or probiotic tampon or cold-sore remedy, it can be difficult to discuss these more personal items. That’s why we’re tackling Things We Don’t Talk About, a series in which we track down the best hygiene-, sex-, and bodily function–related things we all need but might be too embarrassed to ask about. In this installment, we consult experts on the best remedies for hemorrhoids.
If you needed another reason to fear the epidemic of sitting for too long, let it be hemorrhoids. For the uninitiated, hemorrhoids are swollen veins found in your anus and rectum, and the simple act of sitting creates an ideal setup for them to flourish. “Sitting puts constant downward pressure in the rectal area, slowing down blood flow and increasing the chance of clots and swelling,” says gastroenterologist Jeffrey S. Crespin. The easiest way to avoid them? A high-fiber diet (to prevent constipation and straining) and not using the toilet as an armchair. “The bathroom is not the place to scroll through Instagram, read the latest best seller on your Kindle, or hide from your toddler,” says gastroenterologist Donald Tsynman of Manhattan Gastroenterology.
For those who are experiencing hemorrhoids, topical treatments can be very useful for decreasing pain and irritation, with the exception of severe thrombosed hemorrhoids that require further medical attention. Here, Crespin and Tsynman walk us through some of the best at-home treatments for hemorrhoids, from topical salves to warm baths for your tush.
One of the most common treatments for hemorrhoids is a dose of hydrocortisone, a steroid that helps reduce inflammation and itching in the rectal area. You could start with a hydrocortisone product like Preparation H, which Crespin recommends, but you’d be wise to avoid applying it internally.
And should you need something a little stronger, another option is to numb the area altogether. Crespin suggests Recticare, which contains 5 percent lidocaine. “You’re topically applying it locally twice a day or after bowel movements — probably anywhere from five days to two weeks.”
Other Helpful Suggestions
Stool softeners and fiber supplements often go hand in hand with these hemorrhoid treatments, which Crespin tells his patients to use to prevent constipation. He recommends Miralax (which was also a popular suggestion from gastroenterologists for treating IBS).
The most widely available fiber supplement is Metamucil, though you could also go the generic route with something like Psyllium Husk.
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