What Causes Hemorrhoids?

Dear Dr. Manny,

I think I might have a hemorrhoid? But I’m not sure. What is a hemorrhoid and what can I do about it? Is it like a pimple?

Hemorrhoids, or piles, are swollen veins on your rear end, near your rectum and anus. The walls of these blood vessels often become so thin that they swell and become painful. 

Hemorrhoids are one of the causes of rectal bleeding. While that sounds scary, it’s usually not. The hemorrhoid will go away eventually in a couple of weeks, and the skin will heal up again.

You can’t see hemorrhoids typically, because they are far enough up the rectum to be invisible. They also aren’t likely to hurt very much, because there aren’t as many nerves in that area. Occasionally the hemorrhoid will collapse, and when it does, that hurts. A large pink bump will be visible. It will heal on its own, however. 

An external hemorrhoid can develop a blood clot, which makes it purple or red. The clot might make the bump itch or hurt even more. After it dissolves, it will still itch. 

Hemorrhoids occur when someone puts too much pressure on their behinds, particularly when they are obese, or if they do heavy lifting on a regular basis. Pregnant women also tend to develop them. People who have constipation or diarrhea will also suffer from hemorrhoids. The way to solve the problem is by eating more fiber, drinking more water, and exercising a little bit, particularly if you are overweight. 

Can you pop a hemorrhoid? You shouldn’t. A hemorrhoid is not the same structure as a pimple. It’s a blood vessel. When it’s popped, the recovery becomes much more painful, and takes longer to heal. 

So if you have a hemorrhoid, don’t pop it. Just give it some time. A bath in epsom salts, ice and natural creams are the best way to treat the pain or itching. To prevent hemorrhoids, consider changing your diet.