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Ask our medical team for impartial information and advice about any treatment we provide or medical condition that we treat before you buy.

*Prescription medicines are supplied subject to a medical consultation at the discretion of a doctor.

  • Is there a difference between Haemorrhoids and Piles?

    No, there is no difference between haemorrhoids and piles; they are two terms for the same condition that can be used interchangeably.

  • What causes Piles & Haemorrhoids?

    What exactly causes piles is still unclear. What we do know is that they are associated with increased pressure in the blood vessels located in and around the anus. The majority of cases are believed to be caused by excessive straining when using the toilet. This is often due to a low fibre diet resulting in constipation. There are other factors that can increase the likelihood of developing haemorrhoids, these include:

    • Pregnancy
    • Having a family history of piles
    • Being overweight
    • Being over 45 years of age
    • Regularly lifting heavy weights
    • Long periods of sitting down
    • Prolonged diarrhoea
    • A persistent cough
    • Repeated vomiting
  • When is it appropriate to self-treat Piles?

    There are two main types of piles, these are internal piles and external piles. Internal piles occur above the line inside the anus called the dentate line. External piles will occur below this line. The dentate line is a visible line that marks where the nerves inside the anal canal are able to detect pain. Nerves below the dentate line are capable of detecting pain signals whereas the nerves above it are not.

    There are varying degrees of piles, which are classified by their size and severity. Third and forth degree piles need medical attention and diagnosis.

    • First degree haemorrhoids cannot be seen outside the anus. They develop on the lining inside of the anus and are small in size.
    • Second degree haemorrhoids are larger in size. These swellings may protrude out from the anus when going to the toilet, before retracting back inside.
    • Third degree haemorrhoids comprise of one or more soft lumps that hang down from the anus. These can be pushed back inside, known as reducible.
    • Forth degree haemorrhoids differ from third degree haemorrhoids by being larger in size. They are also irreducible – they cannot be pushed back inside.

    First and second degree haemorrhoids are generally appropriate to self-treat. Any piles or haemorhoids that do not respond to treatment should be investigated by your doctor.   

  • Does sitting on cold surfaces cause Piles?

    No, the temperature of whatever you sit on does not have any affect on you developing piles – it is a complete myth! Conversely, sitting on hot surfaces such as radiator also have no contribution to piles forming.

  • Can I do anything in addition to using Piles treatment to ease my symptoms?

    You can try applying an ice pack for short periods to help reduce inflammation. Sitting in a warm bath (do not use any additives like bubble bath or bath bombs) can help to ease symptoms of pain and discomfort.

  • I sit at a desk all day, does that contribute to my Haemorrhoids?

    Yes, sitting for prolonged periods can contribute to haemorrhoids and make them worse if you are already suffering with them. You are entitled to breaks to prevent eyestrain from your computer – use these to get up and stretch your legs. Ensure you do light exercise regularly at lunchtimes or in the evenings to help combat the causes of piles.

  • Am I more likely to get Piles if someone else in my family has them?

    Although there is no definite link, people seem to be more likely to experience piles more if their parents also suffered with them. This is likely to be due to similar diet, build and exercise levels rather than a genetic link.

  • Am I more likely to get Haemorrhoids if I am overweight?

    Being overweight increases the chances of suffering with haemorrhoids due the extra weight on their abdomen causing extra pressure. Losing weight can help to relieve haemorrhoids/piles. You are also more likely to get piles if you are pregnant or lift heavy weights for the same reason.

  • Is itching around the anus a sign of Piles?

    Yes, itching around the anus can be a symptom of piles. To make an accurate diagnosis you need to consider the full range of symptoms, as anal itching alone can be a symptom of a number of conditions such as threadworms.

  • Are skin tags the same as Piles?

    No, anal skin tags are from the skin folds of the anus. They can occur if you have piles but can also be a sign of a different underlying condition. If you have an anal skin tag you should have it checked with your doctor.

Authored By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Ruari O'Connell

Ruari O'Connell

BPharm IP

Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Ruari has worked in all sectors of pharmacy and is one of the most experienced Pharmacist Independent Prescribers in the UK.

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