What causes the symptoms of external hemorrhoids?

Updated: Sep 24, 2019
  • Author: Kyle R Perry, MD; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, AGAF  more...
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Answer

External hemorrhoids cause symptoms in two ways. First, acute thrombosis of the underlying external hemorrhoidal vein can occur. Acute thrombosis is usually related to a specific event, such as physical exertion, straining with constipation, a bout of diarrhea, or a change in diet. These are acute, painful events.

Pain results from rapid distention of innervated skin by the clot and surrounding edema. The pain lasts 7-14 days and resolves with resolution of the thrombosis. With this resolution, the stretched anoderm persists as excess skin or skin tags. External thromboses occasionally erode the overlying skin and cause bleeding. Recurrence occurs approximately 40-50% of the time, at the same site (because the underlying damaged vein remains there). Simply removing the blood clot and leaving the weakened vein in place, rather than excising the offending vein with the clot, will predispose the patient to recurrence.

External hemorrhoids can also cause hygiene difficulties, with the excess, redundant skin left after an acute thrombosis (skin tags) being accountable for these problems. External hemorrhoidal veins found under the perianal skin obviously cannot cause hygiene problems; however, excess skin in the perianal area can mechanically interfere with cleansing.


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