Hemorrhoids, a painful condition that causes swelling and inflammation in the veins of your lower rectum and anus, can occur as the result of pregnancy or straining during a bowel movement. Pressure on the rectal area can also build up over time, which is why older adults are more likely to experience hemorrhoids than younger adults. Infections from hemorrhoids are rare, but can cause extreme pain and lead to death of the tissue -- gangrene -- surrounding your anus and lower rectum. To avoid pain and complications, seek treatment for infected hemorrhoids as soon as possible.
Make an appointment with your doctor. If you note signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids -- including bleeding during bowel movements, itching, irritation, swelling, pain, discomfort, a sensitive lump near your anus or leaking feces -- contact your primary care doctor. Depending upon the symptoms you describe, your primary care doctor will treat you or refer you to a digestive specialist, or gastroenterologist.
Write down your symptoms and any questions you may have for the doctor prior to your appointment. Your doctor needs to know your medical history, your current medications and how long your symptoms have persisted. Also write down questions regarding treatment options.
Attend your appointment. Your doctor may perform a variety of tests to diagnose infected hemorrhoids. If your hemorrhoids are external, a visual inspection may suffice to diagnose your condition. If they are internal, your doctor may perform a digital rectal exam or suggest a colonoscopy, a more thorough examination that allows your doctor to view the insides of your anus and rectum.
Take your medications as directed. Your doctor may prescribe the use of over-the-counter creams, pads, ointments or suppositories to help reduce pain and itching. If you infection is more severe, your doctor may write a prescription for medication to reduce the infection as well as your pain.
Schedule appointments for any procedures your doctor may suggest. If medication does not treat your hemorrhoids, your doctor may suggest injection therapy to help shrink the hemorrhoids, or recommend a procedure called rubber band ligation in which a rubber band is placed around the hemorrhoid to cut off its circulation. Your doctor may also use a laser treatment to remove the hemorrhoids. If minimally invasive procedures fail, surgery to remove the hemorrhoids may be required.
If you experience side effects due to over-the-counter or prescription medications, discontinue use and contact your doctor immediately.