Hemorrhoids, or piles, are inflamed veins inside your anus or lower rectum. They typically occur after straining during bowel movements, but they may also develop during pregnancy due to increased pressure on the veins in the rectal area. While small hemorrhoids may cause no symptoms, the Mayo Clinic explains that larger hemorrhoids often cause itching, pain, irritation, anal swelling and painless bleeding during or after bowel movements. Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, may help relieve the pain and inflammation of hemorrhoids when added to bath water.
Fill a clean bathtub with very warm water. Only about 6 inches of water is necessary to use Epsom salt to relieve hemorrhoids, but you can add more water if you desire.
Add 1 cup of Epsom salt for every 6 inches of water. If you fill a standard tub completely, you will need to use about 2 cups of Epsom salt. Larger tubs, such as garden tubs, may require twice that amount, according to the Epsom Salt Council.
Use your hand to mix the bathwater until all of the Epsom salt is dissolved. You should feel no salt at the bottom of the tub.
Sit in the water, in a comfortable position, for 15 to 20 minutes. You can recline in the tub if you wish, but your rectal area should remain submerged for at least 15 minutes.
Rinse your body with warm water, and then towel dry. If possible, allow your rectal area to air dry, as rubbing or patting the area may cause irritation and increase inflammation. The Mayo Clinic recommends using a hair dryer on a low setting to prevent irritation caused by moisture in the rectal area.
Apply topical hemorrhoid creams or over-the-counter suppositories after bathing and drying your rectal area. If your doctor has prescribed medication to treat your hemorrhoids, follow his instructions as to when you should apply the medication.
Bathe in warm water and Epsom salt every few hours until your symptoms improve. Stop using Epsom salt if you develop increased itching, inflammation or pain, or if you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as hives or facial swelling.