More than 75% of people experience hemorrhoids at some point in their life. The list of symptoms is hard to type, let alone experience: rectal bleeding, chronic itching, and painful bowel movements. But the good news is hemorrhoids are treatable and temporary.
"Hemorrhoids can be painful and embarrassing, but they often shrink on their own with simple self-help and over-the-counter remedies," says Dr. Howard LeWine, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Drug stores are teeming with hemorrhoid treatments, but it turns out one of the most popular remedies comes from a flowering shrub: witch hazel.
What Is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is an herbal substance derived from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana, a shrub native to North America. For hundreds of years, the extracts from the plant have been used to soothe irritated skin.
Witch hazel is regulated in the United States as an over-the-counter drug in the form of gels, creams, and ointments. Side effects are very rare and adults can use it with minimal risk.
But what’s up with the name?
The “witch” in witch hazel originates from the Old English “wice,” meaning "pliant" or "bendable” and isn’t related to the Halloween kind of witches. So you won’t be performing sorcery on your hemorrhoids, but you can still soothe them.
Can Witch Hazel Heal Hemorrhoids?
If you open up your science textbook to the butt section, you’ll learn that hemorrhoids are caused by inflamed blood vessels in the anal area or rectum. There are two types: internal hemorrhoids (inside the anal canal) and external hemorrhoids (outside the anal opening). These swollen veins can develop randomly, but often stem from strained bowel movements caused by chronic constipation.
You don’t need to be a proctologist to understand how painful hemorrhoids can be, so we won’t elaborate. The bigger question is how to treat them.
Research is limited, but there’s evidence to suggest the anti-inflammatory properties from the tannins in witch hazel can ease the itching and swelling associated with hemorrhoids. Witch hazel may also stop hemorrhoids from bleeding because it’s an astringent, meaning it tightens the skin.
Applying witch hazel can get your hemorrhoids under control for the majority of the day, but wiping your butt after you poop is a recipe for a flare-up—especially when you don’t have the proper materials on hand.
Wiping With Witch Hazel
Standard toilet paper is known to wreak havoc on buttholes, but it’s even more problematic if you suffer from hemorrhoids. Wiping with scratchy tree pulp can irritate the affected area and undo the progress you’ve made.
Enter: DUDE Wipes Medicated with Witch Hazel. We doctored up our original DUDE Wipes for maximum strength relief. Our formulation contains 50% witch hazel and is engineered to soothe irritation caused by hemorrhoids. Use ‘em every day or before topical treatments like ointments or suppositories. Best of all, they’re flushable.
Wiping used to be the archnemesis of hemorrhoids—now it’s part of your wellness routine.
More Home Treatment Options for Hemorrhoids
Most symptoms of hemorrhoids can be treated with home remedies until they fade away. The exception is a thrombosed hemorrhoid, which is a hard clot that forms inside the hemorrhoid. If this occurs, seek medical advice because it may require a procedure. But for now, let’s focus on standard at-home treatments:
Warm water can heal hemorrhoids faster by boosting blood flow. One way to do that is by soaking in a sitz bath, which is a shallow basin that fits over the rim of your toilet. You can find one online or at your local pharmacy.
Fill it with a few inches of lukewarm water (don’t add any soap or shower gel) and sit tight for 10-15 minutes. Afterward, pat yourself dry with a soft towel. You can do this three times a day, or however often your doctor recommends.
Epsom Salt Bath
If you have more time on your hands, a warm bath with Epsom salt can be a great treatment option to reduce swelling and inflammation. To take an Epsom salt bath, fill your tub with 4-5 inches of warm water, add 2 cups of Epsom salt, and soak for 10-20 minutes. After you get out, gently pat yourself dry.
Hemorrhoid creams and ointments that contain lidocaine, hydrocortisone, or phenylephrine (the active ingredient in Preparation H) help shrink the inflamed tissue and relieve irritation itching. You can find these medications at your local drugstore and apply as directed on the package.
You might associate aloe vera gel with excruciating sunburns, but it’s also a natural treatment option for hemorrhoids. Some products list aloe vera as an “active ingredient” among others, but it’s important to use pure aloe vera gel when applying it to hemorrhoids.
Much like an ice pack can alleviate sore joints and muscles, it can also soothe your hemorrhoids. Start by applying ice to the affected area for no longer than 15 minutes. Always wrap the ice inside a cloth or towel—never apply it directly to the skin.
Eat Enough Fiber
Since hemorrhoids get irritated when you strain to poop, it’s crucial that you’re not constipated. That starts by eating adequate fiber (38 grams a day for men, 25 grams a day for women.) You can also take a fiber supplement. Be sure to drink plenty of water as well (at least eight glasses per day.)
Get Your Wipe Right
Toilet paper does enough damage to society as it stands already. It shouldn't obstruct the treatment of hemorrhoids too. You shouldn't have to choose between being clean and being comfortable. Say goodbye to two-ply and hello to the fresh life with DUDE Wipes Medicated.