Are Hemorrhoids Hard or Soft? Hard Hemorrhoid Lumps Explained
Posted on 16 November 2018 by Maryanne Johnson
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You have hemorrhoids, but you also have a few questions. If you are like the 10 million other patients with hemorrhoids that seek medical advice per year, you probably aren’t entirely sure of what to do when you have hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can significantly impact the way we live our lives, and even though this is considered to be an "embarrassing" condition, people who suffer and struggle with hemorrhoids have plenty of questions that need answering. For most of us, talking about hemorrhoids is difficult because of the social stigma that suppresses this much-needed conversation in polite company.
Hemorrhoids are the fourth leading outpatient diagnosis in relation to gastrointestinal conditions and issues, and this statistic is wrapped up with over 3 million ambulatory visits in the United States alone.
That is an outstanding number of people suffering from this anorectal condition, but the more the symptoms are brought to light, the better we can deal with them, and even prevent flare-ups from happening.
Research has found that it doesn't so much matter your race, gender, or job title, hemorrhoids know no bias. Although, hemorrhoids tend to affect the older population more so than younger adults, causing cases to occur more often in people age 45 and up.
The lack of knowledge around what to look for and what to expect in hemorrhoids is why so many Americans do not seek medical help from their doctors. Hemorrhoids often go undiagnosed, only to be reported to primary care physicians when symptoms worsen or become complicated.
Unreported hemorrhoids aren't fatal by any means, but some complications can arise. First, you should know what to look for in hemorrhoidal symptoms, which begs one of the most commonly posed questions: are hemorrhoids hard?
Yes, if you have external hemorrhoids, which we will cover in depth later in our guide, you’ll find that hemorrhoids are hard lumps around the anus. If you don’t know that you have hemorrhoids, these hard lumps can send anyone into a panic.
Let’s face it; hemorrhoids are hard, not just physically but in dealing with them, too. Hemorrhoids are also hard to talk about and hard to tell a doctor about them.
Are Hemorrhoids Hard or Soft?
Hemorrhoids are always described as hard lumps near your anus. If you feel a hard lump close to your anal opening, you have external hemorrhoids.
If you aren’t sure what to look for and you suspect you have external hemorrhoids, you can expect these hard lumps to hurt and cause a good amount of discomfort when you are moving about and especially when sitting down.
Your external hemorrhoid lumps may also:
- Cause anal itch
- Induce swelling and aching, especially near the anus
- Feel rubbery to the touch
- Feel tender or have a burning sensation
If you have internal hemorrhoids, you won’t feel any lumps, and most likely, any pain at all. This is because the dentate line divides internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids.
The dentate line is the term used to dictate where the hemorrhoid inflammation is subject to in the lower rectum. Internal hemorrhoids are tucked away so that they won't feel hard or soft at all. There are fewer nerves above the dentate line, and so this explains why internal hemorrhoids aren't seen or felt unless they begin to prolapse.
For internal hemorrhoids, you might notice:
- Anal itchiness
- Prolapsed hemorrhoidal column through the rectum
- Swelling around the rectal and anal area
- Anal discharge of fecal matter or mucus
- Rectal bleeding
- A perianal feeling of fullness
Now, the question as to whether hemorrhoids are hard or soft should also provide the answer concerning a prolapsed hemorrhoid. Internal hemorrhoids can extend beyond the rectum, falling through the anal opening. Scientists and doctors have classified internal hemorrhoids into Grades based on how severe the prolapse is.
To put it bluntly, a prolapsed hemorrhoid will probably feel squishy and soft because it is your hemorrhoid column emerging from the rectum. Don’t worry; mild prolapsed hemorrhoids can be guided back with your finger.
External hemorrhoids produce hard lumps, and you will most definitely feel the wrath of external hemorrhoids more than you would with internal ones. External hemorrhoids form below the dentate line, an area that is covered with nerves. Your body will be sure to send pain signals the second external hemorrhoid lumps develop.
Depending on which type of hemorrhoid you have, they could feel hard or soft. Most likely, you will experience hard hemorrhoids, which are external hemorrhoids. Hard lumps are the most commonly reported symptom of hemorrhoids.
Are Hard Hemorrhoids Painful?
We talked about the dentate line, which is an important concept to understand when it comes to hemorrhoid pain.
Hard hemorrhoids are external hemorrhoids, and yes, they are unfortunately painful and can even be life hindering. It seems like daily activities that were once normal become challenging to engage in with hard external hemorrhoids.
External hemorrhoids are below the dentate line, surrounded and covered in nerves that feed rich blood to your perianal area. When these arteries and network of veins become inflamed, the nerves will be the first to let you know how painful it is.
Going to the bathroom will increase the pain you feel with hard hemorrhoids. Passing hard stools in a difficult bowel movement can worsen the pain as well. Constipation and straining go hand-in-hand in causing hemorrhoid flare-ups and producing hard lumps.
Your rectal veins work overtime to pump the blood to the needed area, and because of constipation and straining, inflammation can occur, developing hard external hemorrhoid lumps or worsening already existing symptoms.
The hard hemorrhoid bumps can become thrombosed. Blood clots can get trapped in the already aching anal masses. Thrombosed hemorrhoids can increase in size, become even more sensitive to the touch, and also burst if the pressure becomes too much.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids can become darker in color because of the blood beneath the surface of the perianal skin. If you should notice that these symptoms have begun to crop up, you can make an appointment with your doctor to have the thrombosed hemorrhoid taken care of.
When your doctor safely makes an incision in the thrombosed hemorrhoid, you will notice that the hard lump is no more, as well as a reduction of pain and discomfort. It is essential to note that you shouldn’t try this on your own.
How to Treat a Hard Hemorrhoid Lump
Prevention of flare-ups and treating the symptoms of hard external hemorrhoids are your best bet in resolving them. You can manage and prevent hard hemorrhoid lumps at home, but you should also let your doctor know about your symptoms.
Conventional treatments for hard hemorrhoid lumps include:
- Creams and ointments that are anti-itch and pain relieving
- Oral pain relievers
- Medicated wipes with witch hazel to clean and soothe
- Eating fibrous foods every day
- Taking a fiber supplement
- Taking a hemorrhoid supplement
- Using a laxative or stool softener
The name of the game in treating hard hemorrhoid lumps is to try to not strain during your trips to the bathroom. Many of these methods address the symptoms of hard hemorrhoids, but if you also try to eat and live healthier, you can prevent them, too.
Fiber and fiber supplements are an excellent method in treating hard hemorrhoid lumps, and with fiber, the lumps will shrink and stay away much quicker.
Good bathroom habits go a long way in preventing hemorrhoids, such as not sitting on the toilet for long periods of time, not using dry toilet paper, and trying to eat right to avoid constipation and hard stools.
Doctors say that mild exercise is beneficial for these hard hemorrhoid lumps, and while they are correct, your external hemorrhoids might need some lubrication before you go on that brisk walk. Topical creams come in handy for lubricating the hard hemorrhoids.
Other forms of exercises, like running, weight lifting, and anything overtly rigorous can worsen the pain of external hemorrhoids. Straining and friction can make symptoms more exuberant and unbearable, even prolonging the presence of hard hemorrhoids.
Consider talking to your doctor, even a hemorrhoid doctor, about what you can do about your hard external hemorrhoids. By making a treatment and prevention plan, you can avoid dealing with hard hemorrhoid lumps in the future.