DOCTORS are urging embarrassed piles sufferers not to put frozen potatoes up their backsides – after a worrying trend emerged online.
Those struggling with haemorrhoids have been relying on the bizarre home remedy to treat the condition – rather than seeing their doctor.
However, medics are now warning people about DIY spud suppositories – and urging sufferers to instead stay hydrated, enjoy a fibre-rich diet and visit a GP if things don't improve.
Dr Diana Gall, from online doctor and prescription service Doctor-4-U, said: "Piles can be an irritating condition and sufferers are sometimes too embarrassed to get professional help, turning to old wives’ tales instead.
"There is no medical evidence that putting frozen potatoes inside the anus can help cure piles, so I would urge caution to anyone thinking of doing it.
"Piles often go away on their own after a few days, but there are some tried and trusted ways to keep them at bay.
No medical evidence
"You should drink plenty of fluids and maintain a fibre-rich diet and try having regular warm baths to ease itching and pain.
"If home treatments do not banish your piles, it is advised to go to your doctor and explore alternative treatments."
Dr Gall's warning comes after a series on online articles claimed that inserting a frozen French fry-sized piece up their rear for 30 seconds can banish piles.
They claim that because a raw spud is slightly acidic it can relieve pain and itching, while its frozen state constricts blood vessels in the sensitive area.
One online article reads: "Here's what you need to do: Peel a raw potato and cut into thin slices, like you do it for French fries.
"Put the slices into the freezer and wait until they are frozen.
"Insert the frozen potato slice in your anus and leave it inside for 30 seconds. Repeat the process for three to five days.
"The next three to five days leave the slice inside for 30 seconds more each time.
"The potatoes have astringent properties and help relieve the pain and itchy sensation which usually happens with this condition, while the ice cold potato constricts the blood vessels, reduces the swelling and relieves your pain instantly."
I would urge caution to anyone thinking of doing it
Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen or bulging veins in the anus.
It's estimated that around one in 20 Brits will experience them at least once in their life.
They're similar to varicose veins seen on legs but in a much more sensitive part of the body.
There are many causes for haemorrhoids including pregnancy and straining during bowel movement.
Long spells of sitting down, constipation, a low-fibre diet and obesity have also all been linked to the painful ailment.
What are haemorrhoids?
Piles (haemorrhoids) are lumps inside and around your bottom (anus).
They often get better on their own after a few days.
Symptoms of piles include:
- bright red blood after you poo
- an itchy anus
- feeling like you still need to poo after going to the toilet
- slimy mucus in your underwear or on toilet paper after wiping your bottom
- lumps around your anus
- pain around your anus
If there's no improvement to your piles after home treatments, you may need hospital treatment.
Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you. Treatment does not always prevent piles coming back.
Guts UK! are the only UK charity funding research into the digestive system from top to tail.
They declined to comment whether the potato trick is a good idea or not because they aren't aware of evidence or research to suggest the treatment works.
However a spokesperson did point out that more than half of people with digestive issues, including piles, are embarrassed to seek help.
Guts UK! Conducted a survey quizzing 800 people about their digestive health.
The Guts UK! website reads: "Guts UK found that 58 per cent of those we asked felt embarrassed about their digestive condition/symptoms.
"Research found that 51 per cent of patients with digestive symptoms do not seek advice for more than six months.
"Treatment is usually initially about increasing intake of water and fibre to soften the stool but if these methods are unhelpful, a referral to a specialist may be required."
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