Dealing with piles that start to smell can be stlightly embarrassing. Most people may not notice that they have hemorrhoids until they notice an unpleasant smell coming from the anal region. This is an indication that their hemorrhoids are inflamed and require inspection.
When hemorrhoids become inflamed, the veins around the lower rectal area or underneath the area surrounding the anus swell up and protrude. As a result, you may lose control over your anal sphincter, a small muscle that keeps the anal area closed. If this happens, you may detect a less than pleasant smell coming from the area due to anal leakage consisting of mucus and stool.
All it takes is a tiny amount of anal leakage to create the offensive odor. Worse still is the fact that you may not notice it - but other people will. A bad odor may also be a symptom of an infection or the result of pain keeping you from thoroughly cleaning your anus.
We've rounded up 3 reasons why hemorrhoids may smell and how you can treat them.
The Causes of Hemorrhoid Smells
There are several reasons why your hemorrhoids are beginning to smell. Let's go over them one by one.
Anal Leakage (or fecal incontinence)
When hemorrhoids become inflamed and large, they often leak a mucus discharge with an offensive smell. The leakage comes out of the anus by accident and may become more prominent if you pass gas. After cleaning yourself, you may also see a small amount of mucous in your toilet paper.
Anal discharge is one of the primary symptoms of hemorrhoids and can contribute to an offensive smell. It may also occur if the hemorrhoids prevent the anal muscles from working properly.
Difficulty Cleaning the Anus
Pain around the anal area can make it difficult to clean any discharge, mucus, or stool. Some people often experience more irritation using certain products, especially if they contain alcohol. Not cleaning the area around the anus will inevitably contribute to smell due to lingering traces of fecal matter.
It is worth noting that not cleaning all fecal matter can increase the risk of developing various conditions. In the case of women, these conditions include:
- urinary tract infection (UTI)
- labial irritation
Men will have a higher risk of developing similar conditions, including:
- Excessive itching
- Discomfort and pain that affects their quality of life
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Tip for wiping: Use wet wipes to avoid irritation from dry toilet papers. Make sure to look for unscented products that are designed for sensitive skin. Regular wipes may cause further irritation and worsen the symptoms.
It isn't common for hemorrhoids to develop an infection, but it does happen. This can cause a pus filled abscess in the anal tissue with a foul odor. The most common reason for internal hemorrhoids is when they become prolapsed, i.e. when they bulge outside the anus and lose blood supply. These hemorrhoids are often known as strangulated internal hemorrhoids.
This may create the perfect conditions for flesh-eating bacteria, viruses, and fungi to proliferate and infect the hemorrhoids, eventually leading to a rare but potentially life-threatening form of gangrene known as Fournier's gangrene. Very few people develop Fournier's gangrene.
- Feeling fatigued all the time
- Swelling around the anal area
- Severe pain
- Strong odor
- Redness around the infected area
- The tissue pay turn a brown to black purple color in later stages
A strong odor isn't always an indication of Fournier's gangrene. But you should call the doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the above symptoms. Studies show that some people are at risk of dying, and the outcome is more severe if treatment is delayed.
Describing the Smell of Hemorrhoids
The smell of hemorrhoids largely depends on what caused them in the first place. The smells are often difficult to describe and change from person to person. For instance, a smell caused by an infection is described as 'foul' or 'putrid'. The smell of gangrene is often described as 'rotten' or 'rank.' An odor caused by mucous discharge may be described as 'fish-like.'
In addition to the above, if hemorrhoids make it difficult to clean the anus area, you may notice a fecal smell.
Getting Rid of the Smell of Hemorrhoids
There are a few ways to reduce the smell of hemorrhoids. These include:
- Make sure you're not going through infection, and if you do have an infection, get it treated on a priority basis.
- Sit in warm water for 20 minutes, several times a day, to ease the hemorrhoid condition. This method is especially effective if done right after passing bowel movements.
- Clean the anus area regularly and thoroughly - even if it is uncomfortable.
- Apply anti-inflammatory creams such as witch hazel or aloe to help with the irritation and make it easier to clean the anus.
- If you have one available, use a bidet to clean your anus to reduce the irritation caused by wiping the area with toilet paper.
- If your anus is still sore, consider using medicated wipes specially designed to provide relief with hemorrhoids.
Signs It's Time to Call a Doctor
Most cases of smelly hemorrhoids will clear up eventually or with the use of home remedies. But you should call your doctor if you have excessive bleeding or dark-colored bowel movements. These are symptoms of more serious underlying conditions that require proper examination by a doctor. You may also call a doctor if the hemorrhoids are causing excessive discomfort or pain, you have a fever, or if the home remedies haven't treated your hemorrhoids.
As a rule, anything that will obstruct the anal passage will prevent the seamless motion of bowels, with some fecal matter getting stuck near the anus. In addition, swollen veins will make it difficult to clean the anal area because of the pain and discomfort. Your best bet is to regularly clean the anus area and use home remedies to reduce pain and inflammation. But you should contact the doctor if you notice blood in your stool or have signs of an infection.