Hemorrhoid basics

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your lower rectum and anus. They often result from pressure placed on the veins when you strain during bowel movements. Hemorrhoids are a very common condition.

Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. When an internal hemorrhoid prolapses (bulges outward) through the anus, it can bring with it mucus that can aggravate the irritation and cause itching. Passing stool can also cause further irritation and make the itching even worse.

You may be able to relieve the itching and help heal your hemorrhoids using home remedies. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to be an effective home remedy for a number of conditions. But can it work for hemorrhoids? Read on to learn the research and ways to treat hemorrhoids at home.

Why apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar has been a popular folk remedy for years. Recently, it’s become increasingly popular on the internet as a home remedy for just about anything.

It’s made by fermenting the sugar from apples using a two-step process that turns the sugars into acetic acid. That’s the active ingredient in vinegar.

Acetic acid is astringent. Astringents shrink organic tissues, such as skin. Apple cider vinegar has also been shown to have antibacterial properties, which may help certain skin conditions.

Proponents claim apple cider vinegar may suppress inflammation, too. So, theoretically, it may relieve the swelling and irritation of hemorrhoids.

Does it work?

Anecdotal evidence suggests apple cider vinegar provides immediate relief from pain and itching caused by hemorrhoids. However, there’s no scientific evidence available to back this up.

Experts also warn that apple cider vinegar applied directly to the skin could cause further irritation and burns. There’s been reported cases of apple cider vinegar causing chemical burns when applied to the skin.

While apple cider vinegar may be a useful home remedy for some conditions, applying it directly to your skin as a remedy for hemorrhoids — whether internal, external, or from pregnancy — isn’t recommended. There are safer and more effective treatments available.

Can you use it other ways?

Diluting apple cider vinegar with water can reduce the risk of skin irritation and burns. It may provide some relief from itchy hemorrhoids.

You can dilute apple cider vinegar with water and freeze it in an ice cube tray. If nothing else, the cold might feel good against your skin. It may help reduce pain, swelling, and itching, even if just temporarily.

If you’d like to give apple cider vinegar a try on your hemorrhoids, you can also try soaking in a warm apple cider vinegar bath. Just add 2 cups of the vinegar to a tubful of warm — not hot — water, and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Take a shower to rinse your skin when you’re done.