External Hemorrhoids Treatment
Introduction to External Hemorrhoids Treatment
External hemorrhoid treatment isn't a subject that occurs to people often. At least, not until you have to experience the pain, discomfort, itching, burning, bleeding and sheer embarrassment of an external hemorrhoid. When that happens, the hope of external hemorrhoid treatment has a way of gripping the mind to the exclusion of all else.
Though the problem can seem endless and pointless to treat, take heart. A vast array of symptom relief, hemorrhoid cures and prevention were developed just for you. All of the over-the-counter medications available today were formulated specifically for external hemorrhoids. Happily, they also often respond best to home treatment when you catch them in time.
Causes of External Hemorrhoids
Before you can treat any health condition effectively you have to know where it comes from. Pinpointing and eliminating the causes of your external hemorrhoids is the most essential component of a treatment system. After all, the whole idea is to get rid of them forever, right?
External hemorrhoids start up from veins that run through the anal area. Due to the demands of physics, the anal area circulatory system runs in strange ways. Gravity says that fluid should run down, but your body needs blood to get back up to your heart. In addition, the anorectal canal must bear up under quite a bit of stress just from your normal movement and body's elimination process.
The veins that remove waste from the anal area also run through large hemorrhoidal cushions on the interior of the anal canal. These veins can open wide or constrict quite small in order to provide flexibility and anal sphincter control. They run down past the anal sphincter to the exterior of the body before swinging back up towards the heart. This "U-bend" in the veins runs close to the exterior skin and is the location external hemorrhoids originate from.
Why? Well, the exact mechanical cause isn't completely understood, but hemorrhoids in general come from excessive abdominal pressure increasing the blood pressure within the veins. Working on the basic rules of hydraulics, the blood then puts extreme force on the vein walls. These vein walls possess a high degree of elasticity, but anything can be strained too far.
If the vein wall stretches so far that it doesn't naturally contract, a hemorrhoid develops. While some hemorrhoids go away on their own, others will just grow bigger and cause more problems. You should always treat external hemorrhoids long before they get to a critical stage.
So, what causes abdominal pressure? Constipation, diarrhea, pregnancy, heavy lifting and long periods of sitting all create abdominal pressure and make hemorrhoids more likely. Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease and other colorectal problems can also contribute to hemorrhoids.
Heck, sitting too long at a time on the toilet can contribute to external hemorrhoids. The modern toilet forces you to sit with only weak muscle support from the pelvic floor muscles. If and when those muscles can't hold everything up, hemorrhoids usually follow shortly.
If you are pregnant or have a serious health problem with your large intestine, your external hemorrhoids may not clear up until the health condition is either gone or controlled. Pregnancy is obviously not a disease, but pregnancy-related hemorrhoids often stick around until a couple of months after birth. No matter what state your body is in, lifestyle and diet changes still help with both internal and external hemorrhoid treatment.
External Hemorrhoids Treatment for the Symptoms
The first thing to do, of course, is to keep those symptoms from driving you insane. External hemorrhoids have the worst symptoms, mainly due to location. They originate from below the dentate line, which is the line that separates external skin from internal mucus membrane.
There's a large and sensitive nerve band right below the dentate line. External hemorrhoids often sit right on top of it. In other words, that inflamed thing is screaming up a high-bandwidth channel straight to your brain. No wonder it's painful!
It's a good thing that there are so many treatment options as close as your freezer, bathroom and home medicine cabinet. If you're stuck with external hemorrhoid agony and just can't get to a pharmacy right now, draw a couple inches of water hot as you can stand in the bathtub. Sit in it for about twenty minutes at a time, three to four times per day.
Follow up with a towel-wrapped ice pack for maximum relief. Just remember to never put bare ice on your skin. Take the appropriate number of ibuprofen tablets to get maximum pain and inflammatory relief.
Once you can get to a drugstore, the whole plethora of creams and ointments opens up for you. For quick external hemorrhoid relief, look for a cream with a topical anesthetic in it. Look on the drug information chart, usually on the side of the box. The most common ones end in "-caine", but ask your pharmacist for help if you can't seem to find one.
Other common ingredients include vasoconstrictors, astringents and corticosteroids. Vasoconstrictors are medications that shrink blood vessels, making them invaluable for external hemorrhoids. There are quite a few of them on the market today and they can be dangerous for people with high blood pressure or other health conditions.
Again, ask your pharmacist for help picking one if you currently take any other long term medications. Pharmacist advice is given for free, unlike doctor appointments. You may as well take advantage of it.
Astringents include ingredients like witch hazel or aloe vera gel. These mild medications make the skin on and around the external hemorrhoid dry up and cool down, giving lots of symptom relief very fast.
The most common corticosteroid used in external hemorrhoid treatment is hydrocortisone. These medications decrease inflammation pretty fast. They're useful as an emergency relief measure, but never apply a cortisone cream on a regular basis. Corticosteroids (-cortisone medications) make the muscle walls thinner if used for long periods. If the muscles around your anal sphincter get thinner and weaker, it only makes the hemorrhoid problem worse.
External Hemorrhoids Treatment to Achieve a Cure
Of course, it's no good just getting symptom relief. The full range of external hemorrhoids treatment also means making them go away forever! We'll get to the forever part in a minute; this section just tells you how to get rid of the ones you have right now.
In order to cure uncomplicated external hemorrhoids, you have to be willing to make lifestyle changes. Yes, there are medications out there that help with the healing process. Those medications won't work as well if you don't help. If you've already got a healthy lifestyle and your hemorrhoids are due to a health condition, work on aggressive management of the health condition. If you know you could eat better and exercise a touch more, well, you know what to do.
A number of medications offer hemorrhoid cures along with symptom relief. You can even pick between mainstream medication and natural remedies! Medication that comes in a cream is usually available over the counter but oral medications usually require a prescription. Herbal remedies are not always as effective as prescription medication, but herbal treatments are all available without a prescription.
Note: The distinction drawn between "medication" and "herbal remedy" is somewhat arbitrary. We've used it to differentiate between mainstream medications and alternative herbal medications without getting overly pedantic. However, any chemical that causes an effect in your body is a medication. Any medication can be dangerous if misused.
If an external hemorrhoid gets really bad or develops a blood clot then surgery may be your only option. Full hemorrhoidectomy is the only surgical option for hemorrhoids. Need we say how unpleasant this option is? Hemorrhoidectomies are risky surgical procedures. Botched hemorrhoidectomies are a living nightmare.
If you must have one, make sure you get a hemorrhoid surgeon you trust. However, avoiding surgery is always best, so treat your external hemorrhoid before they get to this stage.
Prevention as part of External Hemorrhoids Treatment
The last part of any external hemorrhoid treatment program is to make sure they don't come back. Whether you managed to get rid of it at home or had to endure surgery, you must still fix the underlying problem.
Eliminate as many potential causes as you can for good. Make your diet and exercise changes permanent. Try elevating your feet while you're on the toilet so you're in more of a "squatting" position. Wear loose clothing and loose cotton underwear instead of clothing that will constrict and irritate.
Check for irritating dyes and perfumes in your soaps, laundry detergent or toilet paper and eliminate them. Heck, try wiping more gently after bowel movements. The point is, if you've suffered from external hemorrhoids once, get systematic about eliminating causes to make sure you don't get them again.
External Hemorrhoids Treatment in Conclusion
External hemorrhoids are usually a minor health problem at worst. However, without proper treatment, they can devolve into a serious health impediment. At the least they degrade the quality of your life. There is absolutely no reason to suffer them any more than you already have. Make sure external hemorrhoids are the actual problem, then use everything reputable you can find to treat them. Best of luck in your search!
External Hemorrhoids Treatment References
E. Gojlan, Pathology, 2nd ed. Mosby Elsevier, Rapid Review series.
Sikirov BA (1989). "Primary constipation: an underlying mechanism". Med. Hypotheses 28 (2): 71–3.
Research and main write by Loni L. Ice, quality control, editing and additional writing by D. S. Urquhart.
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