Hemorrhoids are characterized by large and swollen veins around the lower rectum or anus. They're also called piles. Several things can trigger hemorrhoids, from increased pressure in the lower rectum to sitting for long periods on the toilet and even chronic diarrhea with constipation. In addition, there is a large inter-individual variance in how people respond to these triggers.
Unless you know your triggers, hemorrhoids can be hard to treat. You might go for months without any symptoms only to suddenly have a flare-up - especially in the case of internal hemorrhoids. You might also be wondering, "are hemorrhoids contagious"?
Let's answer the quuuestion.
Are Hemorrhoids Contagious?
Thankfully, hemorrhoids are not contagious. Even if you have an active hemorrhoid condition, you can't pass it to someone. If you think you've gotten hemorrhoids from someone else, you probably already had the symptoms, to begin with.
However, hemorrhoids are highly uncomfortable and cause cracks in the skin, leaving it vulnerable to infection. This secondary infection can be contagious.
It is incredibly rare for hemorrhoids to become infected.
If you believe that your hemorrhoids have become infected, see a doctor right away. The infection can lead to a debilitating condition known as peritonitis, a life-threatening infection that affects the internal organs and abdominal wall.
With that said, hemorrhoids are not contagious and you cannot contract them from sharing a toilet seat. It's a different story if the hemorrhoids are infected - but even then, the risk is incredibly low to the point where it doesn't concern medical doctors.
Signs Your Hemorrhoids are Infected
Although hemorrhoids infections are relatively rare, they can be life threatening and may become contagious. It is highly recommended to not diagnose a hemorrhoid infection on your own - go see a doctor.
- Pain that gets worse even after a standard hemorrhoid treatment
- Redness around the anus, especially near the site of infection
Your doctor will review your current symptoms and medical history. Various symptoms such as fever can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
The doctor may also check for visual signs of infection, such as the redness around the hemorrhoids. Your doctor may decide to remove a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid before it has a chance of getting infected.
You may be asked to undergo blood tests, such as a white blood cell count, to see if an infection is p[resent. A low white blood cell count is a definite indication of infection. Additional tests such as X-rays and urinalysis may be needed to see if the infection has spread to other areas of the body.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
There are many types of hemorrhoids. Many of them have different causes, some of which are not fully understood.
External hemorrhoids are among the most common types. They are often caused when small bumps develop around the skin near the anal area. These dilated blood vessels have grown so large that they begin to protrude. Blood can clot inside the blood vessel and form a hard lump that can cause considerable pain in some cases.
In any case, external hemorrhoids are not transmittable either through any sort of contact, including sexual intercourse.
Internal hemorrhoids are formed because of swollen veins that form inside the rectum. The rectum is part of the digestive system connecting the anus to the colon (large intestine). You usually can't see or feel them and they rarely cause any discomfort - until you're passing stool. You may notice small amounts of bright red blood after passing stool.
Internal hemorrhoids can be extremely painful if they pass through the anal opening, resulting in irritation. With that said, internal hemorrhoids are not contagious by any means.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids develop when a blood clot develops inside the hemorrhoidal vein, stopping blood flow and causing nearby tissues to swell up. They usually go away on their own in a few weeks, but they can be very painful, especially if they cause rectal bleeding.
Infection of thrombosed hemorrhoids is rare, but it has been known to occur. As mentioned earlier, it is highly recommend to visit a doctor if you believe you have infected hemorrhoids.
Treating Hemorrhoids to Prevent Infection
The best treatment for hemorrhoids is to eat a diet high in fiber and drink enough water. Your doctor may recommend several treatment options such as:
Topical treatment: These are over-the-counter hemorrhoids creams, pads to numb the skin, or hydrocortisone suppositories.
Good Anal Hygiene: The key to preventing hemorrhoids is to clean the anal area to keep it dry and clear of irritants.
Soft Toilet Paper: Avoid using regular toilet paper that could irritate the skin around the anal area. Consider dampening the toilet paper with water or a cleaning agent that doesn't contain alcohol.
Pain Management: Sometimes, the best remedy is to be patient with the pain. If the pain is difficult to manage, you can use over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin to get respite from the discomfort.
In serious cases of persistently painful hemorrhoids that constantly bleed, your doctor may use various procedures to remove hemorrhoids, such as:
- Laser or infrared coagulation
- rubber band ligation
- surgical removal
- stapled hemorrhoidopexy
In addition to the above, you may also be prescribed home remedies, including:
- ice packs around the anus
- including high fiber foods in your diet such as fruits and vegetables to keep your stool soft and add bulk
Anyone can be affected by hemorrhoids, regardless of their age, gender, or race, but it is incredibly rare for them to be contagious.
Hemorrhoids are not contagious but they can become a problem if they get infected. They are very common and are relatively easy to treat. You can also make certain lifestyle changes to avoid them in the first place. If the pain from hemorrhoids persists or your hemorrhoids are bleeding, get in touch with a doctor about the best treatment option for you.
Your doctor's treatment plan depends on how serious your symptoms are. If you notice fever along with symptoms of hemorrhoid, you should visit a doctor right away. You may be prescribed an antibiotic such as doxycycline to treat infected hemorrhoid.