In this article, I’m going to present a very quick overview of some of the many treatments available that say they are going to shrink your hemorrhoids, with some pros and cons for all of them. This is intended to give you a fast idea of what hemorrhoids treatment you might want to consider to shrink your hemorrhoids.
I’m only going to look at the home treatments to shrink hemorrhoids, you can use or buy yourself. In other words, no doctors or surgeons involved.
By shrinking hemorrhoids, I mean reducing the hemorrhoids in size.
The next thing to consider is that most of the treatments that shrink hemorrhoids contain an active ingredient which will act in some way on your body to help reduce the swelling and pain. By ‘active ingredient’, I mean a drug. Drugs can have side effects, and not every drug is right for every person, and as a doctor, I think you should probably seek medical advice before using a drug to be safe.
A topical treatment is one that you apply topically, which is to say something that you put on the affected area like a cream, so let’s examine some of the hemorrhoid creams on the market that shrink hemorrhoids.
All these treatments to shrink hemorrhoids fit into a few broad categories, so let’s examine those.
The active ingredients to look for in the topical applications that much these categories can be found on hemorrhoid creams.
Analgesics are painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, and you can buy many creams that contain something to soothe the painful area of your hemorrhoids. They will provide relief from the pain and itching, for a start. Some analgesics, particularly ibuprofen, also reduce inflammation in swollen areas of tissue. But they won’t actually cure the hemorrhoids, more likely just stop you noticing them while they go away of their own accord.
A Vasoconstrictor is a drug that changes the tone in the blood vessels by making them tighter (constricting the blood flow), and that can reduce the size of a pile not only by stopping as much blood flowing into it, but also by making the muscles in the walls of the vein that make up the hemorrhoid squeeze down on its contents.
But they don’t necessarily react well with treatments for high blood pressure (which are sometimes trying to achieve the very opposite!), so you should check very carefully in the instructions that come with such a cream that it won’t interfere with your own medicines.
Steroids work by a complex interaction with the behaviour of cells in the body that changes the way the way the natural immune response works. As a broad simplification, it tells the cells that in fact, there’s nothing going on that they need to worry about - it will stop local inflammation and reduce swelling, all of which are good news for the size of your steroids.
The bad news is that they also change cell behaviour in other ways too, and over time, some of these changes may prove unhelpful to hemorrhoids. They can weaken muscle tone, for example, and thin the skin making it more prone to tearing and bleeding.
Be very cautious about using any over the counter medicine that contains steroids without checking with a doctor or pharmacist first, and perhaps seek other treatments first.
Astringents are compounds that help stop bleeding; they sometimes have antiseptic properties too. If your external piles are bleeding, applying an astringent can help them stop. They work on a similar principle to vasoconstrictors, closing down the bleeding blood vessels.
Herbal medicines aren’t something that I know a great deal about - western doctors don’t get mainstream training in this very complex field, and so are often a bit sneery about something they don’t understand. Luckily, this website has someone who knows plenty more than me - have a look at Loni’s article entitled Over The Counter Hemorrhoids Treatment and you’ll find more information there on all these treatments.
Since Dr. Hogg wrote this, I have come across an interesting home hemorrhoids shrinking cure, well technically they are cured in that they shrink down to nothing. However, as the vein hasn't been improved and strengthened by this shrinking hemorrhoid cure, which is what herbs are suppose to do when they help the healing process, the hemorrhoids may return with anything that exerts pressure through the rear end, for that reason, this shrinking hemorrhoids cure isn't really to be considered a permanent cure.
As you can see, the creams all have something in common in that they can reduce the size of piles by treating the inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to many problems, and it’s a mixed blessing.
By increasing the temperature of a damaged area, your body increases the speed at which the cells of the immune system work in that area, as well as enhancing the speed of action of a lot of the enzymes those cells release. This also causes inflammation - swelling of the hemorrhoids.
Inflammation of hemorrhoids is also a result of extra blood flow into an area - the local blood vessels actually become leakier, allowing white blood cells to leave the vessel more easily, and bringing fluid from the blood in the form of plasma that helps them get around the damaged area better too. It’s like a sort of scaffold, in a way, to let the repair cells do their jobs.
The problem is that it’s painful, for a start - the extra fluid in an area puts pressure on the nearby areas, and when they get squashed, that’s painful. And if the problem your body is trying to help is already caused by too much pressure and swelling in an area, as it is with hemorrhoids, it can make the immediate pain of that problem worse!
Now, all these types of cream I’ve mentioned above will do a little towards causing an immediate reduction in size to a certain extent. But the truth is that you can’t hurry nature too much. My instinct would be to be a little suspicious of any cream that claims it immediately shrinks hemorrhoids - it’s likely that if it can do that, it must be having a pretty vigorous action on either the blood vessels or the local muscles, and neither of those are things you should go playing around with more than you need to.
For the most part, all of these shrinking hemorrhoids treatments are also short term solutions. None of them address the cause of your hemorrhoids, they just make them a bit smaller or stop you feeling the pain while your body’s natural immune response does its job. Bear in mind, too, that some of these treatments are even interfering with that response - steroids, for example - and you may actually slow down your recovery - suffer from them for longer.
Seems complicated? It is. That’s why when you decide to focus on shrinking hemorrhoids, you should be careful about using the first thing you grab from the shelves at the pharmacy without thinking about it, and part of the reason it takes pharmacists and doctors several years of training before they are allowed to prescribe drugs!
Bear in mind that many of these treatments are available not only as creams for external hemorrhoids but also in suppository forms for internal hemorrhoids, so you may still be able to get the treatment you are looking for in a different form. Ask for help if you aren’t sure.
Yes, deal with the causes of hemorrhoids and you may well shrink your hemorrhoid, even get rid of them if your lucky.
You may find you get hemorrhoids, or that the hemorrhoids you have may get bigger:
Deal with the cause first, and if that’s already gone away, find simple treatments that will relieve your pain and discomfort like sitz baths, an ice pack or painkillers and just wait it out. In a couple of days, you’ll likely feel much better with the problem gone, and you haven’t spent a fortune on creams or pills.
A hemorrhoid is a vein that has swollen with blood, not unlike a varicose vein. The pressure that causes this swelling may then cause local inflammation of the vein, making it feel hot, itchy and painful. Remove these problems and you probably won’t notice the hemorrhoid is there any more. Or perhaps if you can get them small enough, they won’t be prolapsing and causing you extra embarrassment and discomfort - shrinking hemorrhoids may be just the thing you want for that special night out or long trip. So shrinking hemorrhoids can not only reduce hemorrhoid size, it can also relieve some of those symptoms as well, as well as make life more enjoyable.
Have a look through the rest of this website. You’ll find a wealth of tips and ideas for the treatment of your hemorrhoids, from hemorrhoid dietary advice to direct comparisons of different medicines. There’s lots you can do, from taking extra exercise to taking sitz baths or using ice compresses. The page on hemorrhoid home remedies should also be greatly helpful.
Most of these will improve your health generally as well as helping your hemorrhoids too!
Sometimes, though, you may need to reduce a hemorrhoid in size just long enough that it won’t be uncomfortable. Perhaps you need to drive home from somewhere, or there’s a long lecture you’re about to sit through - all you are looking for is some quick and easy way to shrink that uncomfortable feeling lump down so that it isn’t bugging you any more.
It’s not a good idea to squeeze or squash your hemorrhoids either - too much pressure could bruise them, or (even worse) cause a vessel to break and then clot, forming a thrombosis.
A few other words of warning. All these topical treatments are creams or lotions that you apply directly to the skin around the anus for external hemorrhoids. NEVER APPLY THESE TOPICAL TREATMENTS TO INTERNAL HEMORRHOIDS! Just as I hope you wouldn’t tape a suppository to your external skin and expect it to work, you shouldn’t use a medicine in a way other than it is supposed to be used.
If you have questions about how a medicine should be used, read the instructions that it came with, or (if you’ve lost them) look for information or advice before trying something yourself, even if you feel embarrassed or awkward. It can save you a lot of grief in the long term.
There isn’t a quick and easy cure around at the moment, unfortunately, to shrink hemorrhoids and keep them shrunk. You’ll have to see what works for you best - the best way to make your hemorrhoids shrink is to look at curing yourself of them, and that means treating whatever is causing your hemorrhoids.
If symptoms are mild, all you may need is gentle pain relief and hygienic care rather than rushing out and buying expensive lotions to shrink them.
Many people with mild symptoms find that their hemorrhoids will clear up without treatment within a couple of days. By mild symptoms, I mean some light spotting of bright red blood on the paper, itching or burning sensation after voiding your bowels. Very few of those people will need any kind of treatment to get through a bout.
So, if you fall into the above, you may not need to even bother looking for ways to shrink them.
Using one of the types of creams above, particularly the painkiller ones to numb the area, can also bring fast acting relief, but it won’t necessarily make the hemorrhoid smaller, though some parinliller ones will also shrink the hemorrhoids. The thing about the painkillers, is that you just forget the hemorrhoids there, which for some people, is what they really want.
Equally, if your hemorrhoids are internal ones that have become external as well, i.e. they have prolapsed, it’s not a good idea to start trying to poke them back up. Although you’ll probably be able to get them back inside you pretty easily, they’ll just slide back out after a little while, such as with a bowel motion.
If you keep poking them, they’ll get sore and irritated. Besides which, if your hemorrhoids are prolapsing, you really should seek a medical opinion from your doctor [some doctors do suggest to poke them back inside, but it shouldn't be overdone].
Many sufferers gain fast relief from using cool or warm baths and gently massaging the area, and this relief can last for some time. When followed by cold towelled ice packs, hemorrhoids may shrink for some, but the main action is just relief.
If you have time before you set out on a long trip it’s worth preparing yourself in any way you can. Use of a hemorrhoid cushion or pillow will also help avoid discomfort over a long period of sitting down.
Should I shrink my hemorrhoids? I have to say, I’m not convinced this is the question you should really be asking yourself. If you treat your hemorrhoids well, they will naturally get smaller as they get better, especially if they aren’t too bad to start off with. If you find the causes behind the hemorrhoids, you’ll do much better if you sort those out rather than aggressively treating the hemorrhoids themselves.
I’m not saying hemorrhoids are always easily treated or a minor problem to be brushed off - but sometimes, they are, and by worrying or over-reacting to them, you may make them worse. Remember, almost everyone in a rich, Western-style society has problems with them at one time or another, and almost all of those people get better without complications.
If your hemorrhoids are a bigger problem to you, and you’ve tried a lot of different approaches at home or from the net to making yours smaller that haven’t worked, it’s time to talk to a doctor about it. Many of the medications that may help sort your problems out are prescription only, and there are safe surgical procedures that can deal with your problems, but they aren’t things I’d feel happy to recommend you take on yourself.
You can shrink your hemorrhoids, and there’s lots of ways of doing that. But it’s just one approach to a problem that may respond better to other approaches. It’s maybe not what you’re wanting to hear when your piles are an immediate problem, but you have to think of long-term care.
Do what you can to safely relieve yourself of the pain and discomfort, of course, but just as if you only ever treat the pain of hemorrhoids, you are unlikely to get rid of the cause, I think that if you only focus on shrinking them away, you may be missing other, easier things in your lifestyle you can change to bring about a more effective cure.
Research and write by James Hogg,(BSc Oxon, MBBS & BA Hons), Doctor of Medicine, minor editing by Donald Urquhart.