What are piles?
Piles are pads of tissue around the anus caused by swelling or damage to the blood vessels in the rectum. They tend to be round and can often project around 1-2cm outside of the anus.
How are piles caused?
Piles can be caused by a number of factors including:
How can piles be prevented?
- Straining to have a poo.
- High blood pressure within the blood vessels of the rectum.
- During pregnancy, the hormones can increase the pressure on the blood vessels of the rectum, and the weight of the baby can also cause a strain on the bowels.
- Placing too much pressure on the anus, for example sitting on a hard surface. Heavier people may be prone to piles because of the increased pressure on the anus when sitting, although heavier people tend to have more cushioning around the bottom which can help alleviate the symptoms.
If you find yourself straining when having a poo, then you may find that a laxative
will help. You can also cut down on salt and unhealthy foods in order to reduce your blood pressure. Some people may also find that aspirin
will help thin the blood and hence help to prevent piles.
How can piles be treated?
The treatments on this page
vary in their mechanisms of action. Germoloids
products contain zinc oxide, an astringent that reduces the swelling, as well as lidocaine, an anaesthetic to numb the pain. Germoloids products are available in ointment, cream and suppository forms. There is also a Germoloids hydrocortisone spray
for severe piles, and a handy pack of Germoloids soothing wipes
contains zinc oxide and the range also includes hydrocortisone suppositories
is an all-natural product based on the Aloe plant. Preparation H
is also based around natural ingredients. Anacal
prevents the body from producing chemicals that cause swelling, and also contains an anaesthetic. Lanacane
treats the itching, and DulcoEase
softens the stools to make the toilet experience less painful.
Why don't all piles treatments contain hydrocortisone?
is a powerful anti-inflammatory and significantly reduces the size of piles, it can also cause thinning of the delicate skin around the anus if used for long periods of time. It is advisable to only use hydrocortisone for periods of a week or less, and switch to non-hydrocortisone treatments after that. Some people may also be allergic to hydrocortisone, and as hydrocortisone is a steroid, is not suitable for patients who are already using a steroid.
What if I am bleeding?
Sometimes, piles can rupture and bleed. However, if the bleeding is particularly heavy or continuous, then you should contact your doctor immediately as it may be indicative of a deeper condition.
Can piles become infected?
Piles can become infected and hence it is necessary to keep the affected area clean. A product such as Germoloids Soothing Wipes
will help to maintain cleanliness after going to the loo.
How do I insert a suppository if the symptoms are painful?
You may find that a lubricant
will help to ease the suppository into the anus. Of course, products such as Germoloids HC spray
are particularly good because they can be applied without having to touch the affected area at all.
Are my bowels falling out?
Piles are merely inflamed tissues within the anus, and not a sign that the bowels are about to fall out in any way. There is a condition known as "rectal prolapse" where the bowels can actually come out, but this is a different thing to piles. Rectal prolapse can be caused by childbirth or any condition that causes the rectal ligaments to weaken. It can also affect toddlers or the elderly.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of piles: external piles
, and internal piles
. External piles look like grapes around the anus are more noticeable and more commonly-complained about. For these, we recommend a cream or ointment, such as Anusol Cream
or Germoloids Ointment
Internal piles are often less painful, but can be noticed as streaks of bright red blood in stools, and discomfort when passing stools. Internal piles can be treated with a suppository product. For people on the move with moderate, less painful internal piles, our most popular product is Anusol Suppositories
. We would also recommend wipes for hygiene such as the Germoloids Soothing Wipes
, together with a soothing cream such as Anusol Cream
For more painful piles, we recommend Germoloids Ointment
or Cream=germoloids cream
, together with the soothing wipes=germoloids wipes
. The suppositories=germoloids suppositories
would also be handy if you are on the move.
For severe piles, we recommend using Germoloids HC
for the first week (unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding), followed by Germoloids ointment
or cream=germoloids cream
; again, together with the germoloids wipes
. You might also like to try the Dunlopillo Ring Cushion
For internal piles
, we recommend one of the suppository treatments above, as the treatment will get straight to the target with a minimum of mess.
is also a very popular formula, though please note that the formula changed in April 2008.
may be useful if trying to insert suppositories.
Click here to view the treatments for piles