Hemorrhoids in Babies
What are hemorrhoids in babies?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. They might stay inside the anus or push outside of the anus. They’re common in adults, but sometimes they develop in babies and toddlers.
Are hemorrhoids in babies different than hemorrhoids in adults?
Hemorrhoids in adults are much more common than hemorrhoids in babies. They also tend to have different causes. But the symptoms of the condition can be similar for both age groups.
Signs that a baby or toddler may have hemorrhoids include:
- Rectal bleeding with bowel movements (pooping) or during wiping and diaper changes.
- Small reddish or bluish bumps near the edge of the anus.
Toddlers and young children may also describe feelings of itchiness or irritation around their anus. Sometimes hemorrhoids cause rectal pain.
What causes hemorrhoids in babies?
Constipation is the most common cause of hemorrhoids in babies. If a baby is straining to have a bowel movement, they may put too much pressure on veins near their rectum. Toddlers that sit for too long on the toilet trying to have a bowel movement can also develop hemorrhoids.
Infants may develop constipation once they transition from breast milk to solid foods. Constipation can also be the result of dehydration (not getting enough fluids). Constipation in toddlers may be due to inadequate fiber and fluid intake or from anxiety about having bowel movements and potty training.
Another cause of hemorrhoids in babies is chronic liver failure. When the liver doesn’t work correctly, the veins carrying blood to the liver might redirect blood to other veins. The extra blood flow increases pressure in veins near the rectum, leading to hemorrhoids.
Care and Treatment
How are hemorrhoids in babies diagnosed?
Parents typically notice the signs of hemorrhoids in babies first. Healthcare providers can usually diagnose external hemorrhoids with a physical exam.
Your child’s provider may need to do a digital rectal exam (DRE) if they suspect internal hemorrhoids. Your child’s provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into their anus to check for hemorrhoids or other abnormalities.
Your child might need a colonoscopy if they have rectal bleeding with no clear cause, such as hemorrhoids. During a colonoscopy, your child receives general anesthesia. Their provider inserts an endoscope (thin, flexible tube with a video camera on one end) into their rectum. They examine their rectum, large intestine and small intestine.
Since hemorrhoids are uncommon in babies, your child’s provider will try to determine if other issues could be causing their symptoms. The following conditions are often mistaken for hemorrhoids in babies:
- Anal fissures: Cracks or tears in the skin of the anus can lead to blood or pain during bowel movements. Anal fissures can develop when babies start passing larger, firmer bowel movements that stretch the anus.
- Anal warts: Genital warts are usually the result of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Infants can get warts through contact with someone who has the virus.
- Rectal polyps: Abnormal growths of cells in the rectum are usually harmless. Polyps can be flat or raised. It’s very rare for rectal polyps to be cancerous in children.
- Skin tags (acrochordons): Skin tags are small, noncancerous growths of skin. They resemble little flaps or bumps.
How are hemorrhoids in babies treated?
Hemorrhoids in babies usually go away on their own or turn into harmless skin tags. If hemorrhoids are due to constipation, your child’s healthcare provider may recommend:
- Adjusting behavior: Limit the time your toddler spends on the toilet after they have a bowel movement. This adjustment can reduce unintentional straining or stress on the anus.
- Dietary changes: Include more fiber-rich foods in your baby’s diet. Fruit and vegetable purees, all-natural fruit juices and baby foods with wheat or barley can help relieve constipation and soften stools.
- Enemas or laxatives: Your provider may recommend laxatives (medicine to relieve constipation) or enemas (injections of fluid into the rectum to loosen stool). These treatments are more common for toddlers than infants. Never give a child an enema or laxative without a doctor’s approval.
- Skin ointments: Over-the-counter skin ointments can shrink hemorrhoids and ease symptoms. Talk to your child’s provider before using these ointments.
In rare cases, your child’s provider may recommend surgically removing severe hemorrhoids. Healthcare providers call this procedure a hemorrhoidectomy.
When to Call the Doctor
When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?
Contact your child’s healthcare provider right away if they:
- Can’t have a bowel movement.
- Have a fever.
- Have anal bleeding.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hemorrhoids in babies aren’t common. Sometimes they’re the result of constipation or chronic liver failure. Even though hemorrhoids are usually harmless, you should never ignore rectal bleeding. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider right away if you notice rectal bleeding or any abnormal growths. Hemorrhoids in babies usually go away on their own.
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