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Hemorrhoids, or hemorrhoids, are swollen blood vessels around your anus or inside your lower rectum. They form when there is too much pressure on your anus. Chronic constipation, prolonged sitting and a family history of hemorrhoids are factors that can contribute to their development.
Hemorrhoids become more common with age. The National Institutes of Health says about 1 in 20 Americans have it, and that number drops to about 1 in 2 in adults over 50.
Itching, pain, and bleeding are common symptoms of hemorrhoids. While not a typical symptom, a bad smell can be a symptom of hemorrhoids. A bad smell can also be a symptom of an anal leak, an infection, or the result of pain that prevents you from completely cleaning your anus.
Keep reading to find out what causes hemorrhoids to smell and how you can treat it.
Hemorrhoids are usually odorless, but there are several reasons why you may notice your hemorrhoids smelling badly.
Anal discharge and fecal leakage
Large, inflamed hemorrhoids often infiltrate
Fecal leakage can also be a symptom of hemorrhoids and can contribute to a foul odor. Fecal leakage can occur when hemorrhoids prevent your anus from closing completely.
Difficulty cleaning your anus
Inflamed or painful hemorrhoids can make it harder to clean around your anus. Not completely cleaning your anus contributes to an odor due to traces of feces.
Gangrene and infection
Infected hemorrhoids can develop a pus-filled abscess that often has a foul odor. Infections most often occur when internal hemorrhoids become prolapsed, which means they swell outside your anus and lose their blood supply. These types of hemorrhoids are known as strangulated internal hemorrhoids.
The National Organization for Rare Diseases says that in rare cases, hemorrhoids can become infected with bacteria, fungi or “flesh-eating” viruses that cause a rare and potentially fatal form of gangrene called Fournier’s gangrene.
Symptoms of Fournier’s gangrene include:
- high fever
- rapid heartbeat
- general fatigue
- moderate to severe pain
- moderate to severe swelling
- a strong odor of rank
- redness or discoloration
- crackling when touching the infection
- brown to purple-black tissue color in later stages
Fournier’s gangrene is not the most likely reason your hemorrhoids have a strong odor. But it’s important to call a doctor as soon as possible if you have any of the symptoms. A research review reported that 20 to 40 percent of participants died and the outlook gets worse the longer you delay treatment.
The smell of hemorrhoids can vary depending on the root cause. Smells can be difficult to describe and descriptions are often subjective.
An odor caused by a discharge of mucus is often described as “fishy”.
An odor caused by an infection is usually caused by the breakdown of tissue by bacteria. Bacteria produce chemicals that can produce an odor sometimes described as “putrid” or “foul”. The smell of gangrene can be described as “row” or “rotten”.
If the odor is caused by having trouble completely cleaning your anus, you may notice a fecal odor.
Here are some ways to reduce the smell of hemorrhoids:
- Ask a doctor to rule out a possible infection and, if you have an infection, treat it properly.
- Take frequent hot baths to soothe hemorrhoids, especially after a bowel movement.
- Clean your anus regularly and thoroughly.
- Try to use
creamswith anti-inflammatory ingredients like witch hazel, zinc, panthenol or aloe to soothe irritation and make cleaning your anus easier.
- Consider using a bidet to clean your anus if you have one, to help reduce irritation from wiping with toilet paper.
- If your anus is sore, consider using medicated wipes designed to relieve hemorrhoids.
Buy medicated wipes online.
The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- itching around your anus
- irritation or pain around your anus
- painful stools
- a lump or swelling near your anus that is itchy or painful
- fecal leak
- anal mucus
- seeing blood on your tissues after wiping
Hemorrhoids usually go away on their own or with home remedies.
You should call a doctor if you have bleeding or black stools. These can be symptoms of more serious conditions that require proper medical evaluation.
It’s also a good idea to call a doctor if you experience significant discomfort, have symptoms of infection, or home remedies haven’t helped treat your hemorrhoids.
Most hemorrhoids can be treated with home remedies like applying anti-inflammatory creams and taking hot baths to soothe symptoms.
If home remedies don’t work, a doctor may recommend a procedure called rubber band ligation. During this procedure, the doctor ties the base of your hemorrhoid with a rubber band to cut off circulation.
Another surgical option is a hemorrhoidectomy, where a doctor removes the hemorrhoid with a scalpel. Surgeons can also burn hemorrhoids with electricity or lasers.
Hemorrhoids are bulging blood vessels in the lower rectum or anus. They usually cause symptoms such as itching, bleeding, or pain. Hemorrhoids can also cause a bad smell if you develop an infection, have anal leaks, or have trouble cleaning around your anus.
Cleaning your anus regularly and using home remedies to reduce pain and inflammation often help fight the odor. But it’s important to call a doctor if you have symptoms of infection or blood in your stool.