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Overview

What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins around the anus or in the lower rectum.  External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids develop in the lower rectum. Internal hemorrhoids may protrude, or prolapse, through the anus. Most prolapsed hemorrhoids shrink back inside the rectum on their own. Severely prolapsed hemorrhoids may protrude permanently and require treatment.

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright red blood on stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement. Internal hemorrhoids that are not prolapsed are usually not painful. Prolapsed hemorrhoids often cause pain, discomfort, and anal itching.

Blood clots may form in external hemorrhoids and cause bleeding, painful swelling, or a hard lump around the anus. When the blood clot dissolves, extra skin is left behind. This skin can become irritated or itch.

Excessive straining, rubbing, or cleaning around the anus may make symptoms, such as itching and irritation, worse.

Hemorrhoids are not dangerous or life threatening. Symptoms usually go away within a few days, and some people with hemorrhoids never have symptoms.