Hemorrhoids itching are more than a simple annoyance. Pruritus ani, as itching in the anal area is better known, is a desire to itch which can be intolerable. If you give in to the need to scratch, you are only making matters worse. The initial scratch might give you a few seconds relief but then you have to keep scratching and in doing so, you are adding to the trauma in the rectal area, which is already sore and swollen.
So what are the causes? Why do hemorrhoids itch? The main reason is because both the hemorrhoids themselves and the surrounding tissues and blood vessels have become inflamed. Inflammation is the term used to describe the bodies’ reaction to infection, irritation or other injury and is marked by increased blood flow to the affected tissues causing redness, swelling and pain. In order to give a more comprehensive answer to the question “why do hemorrhoids itch”?, we must look at what causes the tissues to get irritated or infected.
There are various factors that contribute to irritating the anal area resulting in the compelling urge to scratch. Too much moisture in the anal canal from either diarrhea, frequent liquid stools, incontinence or sweating all cause irritation and can lead to infection. Excessive wiping to relieve itching can also damage the skin and further inflame the area. Friction caused by clothing, pressure from sitting for long periods and even walking add to further irritate the tissues and make the area sore.
Chemicals in the food we eat are another reason as to why hemorrhoids itch. Anything hot and spicy such as hot peppers, curries and hot sauces will not be of any benefit to those suffering from hemorrhoids. Tomatoes and tomato products, such as ketchup and tomato based sauces, citrus fruits and juices, coffee, tea, milk and carbonated beverages are all known to cause itching and irritation in the bowels and should be avoided in order to get some hemorrhoid relief.
Whatever the cause of hemorrhoids itching, cleanliness is vital. After every bowel movement it is essential to thoroughly clean the anal area – GENTLY, using unscented baby wipes or dampened cotton wool. Avoid using anything that contains chemicals for fear of further irritating the area, eg. coloured toilet paper, perfumed soap and do not rub the area excessively or use a wash cloth. Pat the area dry, again using unscented tissues or toilet paper but do not rub.
Itchy hemorrhoids can interfere with getting a good nights sleep and for those who wonder “why do hemorrhoids itch at night?” – as it often seems like they itch more at this time, the same factors cause itching at any time. You are generally more relaxed at night and are not distracted by daily activities and so have time to tune in to whatever is going on in your body. Your sole focus turns to your hemorrhoids and the burning, itching and utter discomfort you feel. Taking a bath just before bedtime is a good idea, both to clean and soothe the anal area and to soothe and comfort yourself. Applying a topical cream when the area is completely dry will help you get some relief. Cotton gloves worn at night can help prevent scratching.