Let’s be honest, hemorrhoids are a bit embarrassing. But, they are actually very common among both men and women.

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are small clusters of veins located in the lowest area of the rectum and the anus. Normally, they are not a problem but if they swell, bleed, or become inflamed it can be very painful.

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What Causes Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure on the veins in the rectal area. Most commonly, this is caused by complications with bowel movements. They can also be caused by:

  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Other medical conditions

Types of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can form internally or externally. If external, a hard or swollen lump will grow under the skin. Home remedies are helpful for treating external hemorrhoids. If they develop internally, they form small, swollen veins in the wall of the anal canal. This can be very painful and you will most likely have to visit a doctor to have them removed.

Do Hemorrhoids Smell?

Side effects depend on the type of hemorrhoids and also how serious they are. The most common complication is pain, but you might also experience a smelly odor. Hemorrhoids are normally associated with extra smelly bowel movements.

Other side effects of hemorrhoids include:

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness, burning, or irritation

Can Hemorrhoids Pop?

If hemorrhoids grow large enough, they can pop or burst. When this happens, you might experience slight bleeding and lots of pain. You should never try to pop hemorrhoids yourself. If one has grown large enough and is that painful, contact your doctor right away.

Hemorrhoid Treatment and Removal

There are ways to safely treat and remove hemorrhoids.

  • Take a warm bath. Try soaking in a warm tub or sitz bath for about 10 minutes several times a day. This can help relieve itching and irritation.
  • Eat more fiber. Adding fiber to your diet can help eliminate constipation, making it easier for you to go to the bathroom.
  • Don’t hold it. Go to the bathroom as soon as you have the urge rather than holding it.

Overall healthy habits can help treat and prevent hemorrhoids. Eating well, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise are all great. If these treatments do not work, you will need to contact your doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, surgery can safely remove a hemorrhoid.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please visit the UPMC Digestive Health Care website.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Digestive Disorders

UPMC Digestive Health Care cares for a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and diseases, from diagnosis to treatment. Whether your digestive condition is common or complicated, our experts can help. Upon referral from your physician, we coordinate your testing and treatment. If you have a complicated condition, we can refer you to one of UPMC’s digestive health centers of excellence. Find a GI doctor near you.