Hemorrhoids, or piles, are swollen veins that develop in the lower rectum or under the skin around the anus. They are usually caused by straining during bowel movements or related to increased pressure on the veins in the rectal area. Symptoms include itching, pain, irritation and bleeding during or after bowel movements. Home treatment involves increasing dietary fiber and fluids, to keep stools soft and easy to pass, avoiding straining during bowel movements, and managing pain and discomfort. Soaking in Epsom salt, a magnesium sulfate compound, may be a helpful way to relieve the discomfort associated with hemorrhoids.
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Fill a clean bathtub with at least 6 inches of warm water. Alternatively, you can use a sitz bath kit, which is a plastic basin that fits over the toilet, or a warm compress applied to the anal area.
If filling a bathtub, add 1 cup Epsom salt for every 6 inches of water. If you are using a sitz bath or a compress, use a solution of 1/4 cup Epsom salt per 4 cups of warm water. Mix the water until all of the salt is dissolved.
Comfortably sit in the bathtub, or use the sitz bath, for 15 to 20 minutes. Or soak a washcloth in the salt solution, remove excess water, and apply to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat every few hours or as needed if this helps with symptom relief.
After your soak or compress, allow your rectal area to air dry, or gently pat the area with a soft towel. Another option is to use a hair dryer -- on a low setting -- to quickly dry the area. Be careful not to rub with a towel, or allow the rectal area to stay moist, as this can worsen irritation.
If your doctor has recommended a medication or cream, apply this after drying your rectal area. Follow the package or prescription directions for application.
Stop using Epsom salt if you have any worsening of itching, inflammation or pain, or if you experience any hives or swelling.