Piles (haemorrhoids)

Piles (haemorrhoids) are swellings inside or around the bottom. They are common and often clear up on their own after a few days.

Check if it's piles

Piles symptoms include:

  • lumps around the anus
  • bright red blood after you poo
  • pain or discomfort when pooing
  • an itchy bottom
  • mucus leaking from your bottom after you've been to the toilet
  • soreness, redness and swelling around your anus

You can usually treat piles yourself.

See what piles look like

How you can treat or prevent piles yourself

Piles often go away on their own after a few days.

To relieve any pain or discomfort when you go to the toilet:

  • avoid straining when you're on the toilet
  • use moist toilet paper or baby wipes
  • dab the area clean, rather than wiping it

To keep your poo soft, help you go to the toilet regularly and stop your piles getting bigger:

  • drink plenty of fluid
  • eat more fibre (fruit, vegetables, wholegrain bread, pasta and cereal)
  • try to avoid drinking too much caffeine (like tea, coffee and cola)

Your pharmacist can help with piles

To relieve swelling, itching and pain you can buy:

  • creams and ointments
  • suppositories (which are inserted into your bottom)

Pharmacists can give you advice about which product is best for you. Ask to speak to your pharmacist in a private area if you're embarrassed.

You shouldn't use piles medicines for longer than a week as they can irritate your skin. Don't use more than one product at the same time.

Speak to your GP if:

  • your piles don't clear up with pharmacy medicines within a week
  • you're bleeding from your bottom
  • the pain is severe
  • your piles are persistent and you can't get rid of them

GPs are used to dealing with piles so try not to feel embarrassed.

Your GP may prescribe stronger creams or laxatives.

Hospital treatment for piles

Piles can come back even after hospital treatment.

Doctors sometimes recommend "wait and see" instead of treatment – for example, if your symptoms don't affect your daily life.

Surgery is usually only required if other treatments are not working or are unsuitable.

Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you.

Rubber banding

Ligation

A tiny rubber band is placed around piles to cut off their blood supply so they're passed out when you poo within about a week.

  • usually no anaesthetic needed
  • leave hospital the same day
  • recovery – 1 day

Injection to shrink piles

Sclerotherapy

A solution injected into the piles so they shrink within 6 weeks.

  • no anaesthetic needed
  • leave hospital the same day
  • recovery time – 1 day

Electricity to shrink piles

Electrotherapy

A gentle electric current applied to the piles using a thin probe so they shrink over a week or so.

  • usually no anaesthetic needed
  • leave hospital the same day

Surgery to remove piles

Haemorrhoidectomy

Piles cut out with major surgery.

  • general anaesthetic
  • hospital stay – 1 to 2 days
  • recovery time – 1 week
  • significant pain that can last a few weeks – you'll be given painkillers

Surgery to staple piles back into place

Stapled haemorrhoidopexy

Stapling piles back into their normal position inside the bottom.

  • general anaesthetic
  • hospital stay – 1 day
  • recovery time – 1 week

Timings for recovery time and hospital stay can vary.

If you're having piles surgery – read our 7 steps to surgery guide.

Risks and complications from treatment are rare but can happen.

They include:

  • heavy bleeding from your bottom
  • problems peeing
  • incontinence
  • pain or swelling around your anus that is getting worse

Speak to the hospital or your GP if you're concerned. If you can't, call NHS 111 for advice or visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E).

Call 111

If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.

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