What are External Hemorrhoids?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect hemorrhoids.
The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect hemorrhoids.

External hemorrhoids are hemorrhoids, body tissue that surrounds swollen blood vessels, which are present just outside of the anal canal. People can also have internal hemorrhoids, and these can’t be felt because they are inside the canal. The latter tend to show symptoms like light bleeding after a bowel movement and the former can be much more uncomfortable and make the skin around the anus feel sore or tender, especially after people have bowel movements. External hemorrhoids may occasionally feel very uncomfortable at all times.

An inflatable 'doughnut' can bring relief to someone with an external hemorrhoid.
An inflatable 'doughnut' can bring relief to someone with an external hemorrhoid.

If a person feels the area around the anal opening, they may be able to feel one or more swollen areas. The swelling may feel hard or soft. It isn’t always possible to feel this since swelling isn’t present all of the time. It may come or go depending on what is causing the external hemorrhoids.

It’s possible to feel a hemorrhoid that seems to originate from the anus. This called a prolapsed hemorrhoid and is actually an internal swelling that has pushed out. Other symptoms of internal/external hemorrhoids include rectal bleeding particularly after a bowel movement, and a feeling of burning, itchiness or discomfort especially with external hemorrhoids.

There are numerous things that can cause hemorrhoids. Those who routinely suffer constipation are more at risk for this condition. Pregnant women are likely to develop internal or external hemorrhoids. People with frequent bouts of diarrhea can get this condition too. Other potential causes can include obesity, but people with few of these complications may develop hemorrhoids also.

People who do develop external hemorrhoids should know that there are many ways to treat the condition. One of the most important things may be observing good hygienic practices after using the toilet. Little pads or wipes that have witch hazel can be used to thoroughly clean the external anal area after a bowel movement. Witch hazel may also be useful because it can help curb itching or burning sensations with regular use. Another helpful suggestion may be to apply ice to the external area for ten minutes or so a few times a day.

Since things like constipation often cause hemorrhoids, eating a high fiber diet and getting plenty of fluid are important. When this swelling is caused by pregnancy, it’s often self-limited to pregnancy and may disappear shortly after childbirth. If hemorrhoids don’t resolve or appear to get worse, there are more invasive methods for treating them, including surgery, a variety of light, electrical or laser treatments, chemical treatments or a procedure called rubber band ligation, which destroys the blood vessel contained in the tissue.

Folks should be aware that bleeding from the rectum always needs to be taken seriously, and it’s not always possible to tell if bleeding is external or internal. There exist severe illnesses of which rectal bleeding is a hallmark. Before attempting any self-treatment measures, people should see their doctors if they notice rectal bleeding, to get a concrete diagnosis.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

anon61240

How can we remove it without a doctor?

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    • The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect hemorrhoids.
      By: dianamower
      The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect hemorrhoids.
    • An inflatable 'doughnut' can bring relief to someone with an external hemorrhoid.
      By: Kitch Bain
      An inflatable 'doughnut' can bring relief to someone with an external hemorrhoid.