Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower part of the anus and rectum. When these veins become irritated, they can be itchy. A person can treat this itchiness using over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments.

Hemorrhoids are common and affect around 1 in 20 people in the United States.

Itching is a common symptom of hemorrhoids.

In this article, we outline the causes of itchy hemorrhoids, explain other symptoms of hemorrhoids, and discuss treatment options.

A pharmacist recommending a treatment to a person at a pharmacy. There are several treatments for itchy hemorrhoids, some which can be bought over the counter at pharmacies.Share on Pinterest
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Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins that occur around a person’s anus (the opening through which feces leave the body) or in their lower rectum (the lower end of the large intestine, which leads to the anus).

They may feel like hard, tender lumps near the anus. These extra lumps and crevasses can lead to improper cleaning of the anus, which may cause itchy skin due to leftover fecal matter.

The skin around the anus may also be irritated due to the swelling, which can cause an itching sensation.

Once these symptoms occur, a person may take steps to reduce symptoms and eliminate the feeling of itching and uncleanliness.

This can include vigorously wiping the area after bowel movements, sometimes with wipes containing alcohol and other chemicals or soaps. However, this can often make the irritation worse and increase the itchiness.

If a hemorrhoid is prolapsed, where the swollen blood vessel has fallen through the anal opening, this can also cause a person to experience increased moisture around the anus. Increased moisture can also cause itching.

A person can treat itchy hemorrhoids with OTC hemorrhoid creams or ointments. They may also use suppositories, which are medications a person inserts into their rectum.

These treatment options can help relieve itching and may also help relieve pain and swelling.

Other ways to treat hemorrhoids generally include:

  • eating foods that are high in fiber
  • taking stool softeners
  • taking fiber supplements
  • drinking water and other nonalcoholic fluids each day
  • avoiding straining during bowel movements
  • avoiding sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
  • taking OTC pain medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin
  • sitting in a tub of warm water several times a day to relieve pain

Hemorrhoid symptoms may vary depending on whether they are external (around the anus) or internal (within the lower rectum).

External hemorrhoids

Symptoms of external hemorrhoids include:

The symptoms of external hemorrhoids can become worse if a person:

  • strains too much when defecating
  • rubs their hemorrhoids
  • vigorously cleans around the anus

The symptoms of external hemorrhoids often go away on their own within a few days.

Learn more about external hemorrhoids here.

Internal hemorrhoids

Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids include:

  • bleeding from the rectum, which appears as bright red blood present on the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl
  • a prolapsed hemorrhoid, which has fallen through the anal opening
  • pain if the hemorrhoid is prolapsed

Other causes of anal itching include:

  • Yeast infections: A yeast infection is a common fungal infection of the genitals. In some cases, yeast infections can cause a person to experience an itchy anus.
  • Anal fissures: These are tears in the lining of the anus. In some cases, anal fissures can cause a person to experience an itchy anus.
  • Pinworm infections: Pinworm is a common intestinal parasite that most often affects children. An itchy anus is a possible symptom of a pinworm infection.
  • Psoriasis: This is an autoimmune condition that causes excess cells to develop on the skin. In some cases, psoriasis can cause a person to experience an itchy anus.
  • Eczema: This is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy skin that can weep clear fluid. An itchy anus may be a possible symptom of eczema if the condition affects the skin around the anus.
  • Iron-deficiency anemia: This condition occurs when a person’s blood contains too few red blood cells due to a shortage of iron. Iron-deficiency anemia can cause a person to experience an itchy anus.

Healthcare professionals often recommend a person use OTC hemorrhoid products for one week. If symptoms are still present after a week, a person should follow up with their healthcare professional.

A person should also contact a healthcare professional if these treatments cause dry skin around the anus or a rash.

Here are some answers to common questions about itching and hemorrhoids.

How long do itchy hemorrhoids last?

In most cases, hemorrhoids go away on their own within a few days. In some instances, the symptoms may last longer.

If a person’s hemorrhoids swell, they may experience pain that can last 5–12 days. This pain will usually resolve once the swelling goes down.

In some cases, hemorrhoids can persist, and a person may require further treatment.

Learn more about how long hemorrhoids last here.

Do hemorrhoids itch and bleed?

Itching and bleeding are both possible symptoms of hemorrhoids.

These symptoms can become worse if a person:

  • strains when defecating
  • rubs their hemorrhoids
  • excessively cleans around the anus or uses wipes containing chemicals

Is it OK to itch hemorrhoids?

If a person scratches their hemorrhoids to relieve the itch, it may cause further damage to the area.

This can cause inflammation to occur, which can further irritate nerve fibers in this area that have already been irritated by the hemorrhoids. This can cause the area to become itchier.

The “itch–scratch–itch” cycle can be difficult for a person to break, which may complicate treatment.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower part of the anus and rectum. A common symptom of hemorrhoids is itchiness.

A person can treat this itchiness using OTC creams, ointments, and suppositories.

Other treatments for hemorrhoids include eating foods that are high in fiber or taking fiber supplements. A person can also take stool softeners to improve their hemorrhoid symptoms.

A healthcare professional may recommend that a person drinks more water or other nonalcoholic fluids each day to help improve their symptoms.