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What Are the Different Types of Hemorrhoid Medicine?

A.E. Freeman
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a number of different types of hemorrhoid medication, but in most cases the primary options are those that contain the hydrocortisone steroid in order to relieve itching; creams, suppositories, and medicated pads that contain various anti-itching ingredients; and other medicated and numbing creams. A range of products designed to reduce swelling in and around the hemorrhoid site may also be available. In most cases the best choice depends on how severe the hemorrhoids are, as well as the amount of pain a person is suffering. Most experts recommend starting with weaker medications and working up, but the strongest option may be the best choice for people with pronounced cases or cases that recur frequently.

Hydrocortisone

One of the most common hemorrhoid medicines is any sort of cream with the primary ingredient of hydrocortisone, which is a corticosteroid. Steroids in this family are fast-acting and provide both pain and itch relief. It’s sometimes possible to get hydrocortisone injections, but this usually only happens in really severe cases. More often the medication comes as a sticky lotion or cream that people can apply directly to their hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids are basically veins that have swollen and become inflamed, and they can be vary painful and itchy. They are the most common in the rectum and anus, and aren’t usually visible; in most cases they’re just below the skin. Aside from itching and pain, one of the biggest symptoms is blood in the stool. There are a couple of different reasons why people might get hemorrhoids, but straining during a bowel movement is usually the cause. Many women also experience them during pregnancy and childbirth. Hydrocortisone cream works by seeping into the skin and sensitive tissues of the rectum and targeting the pain and itching at its source.

One-percent hydrocortisone cream is usually available without a prescription, and can be found in the pharmacy and home health sections of many stores. People with a lot of pain and itching may ask their doctor or health provider for a 2-percent hydrocortisone cream, which is only available by prescription in most places. Strong corticosteroids can cause side effects, particularly with prolonged use, and in most cases they shouldn't be used without consulting a health expert first.

Phenylephrine

Another common hemorrhoid medicine is phenylephrine, a chemical compound that causes the blood vessels to constrict, thus reducing swelling. Phenylephrine can take longer to work, but often does more to actually solve the problem than pain relieving creams, which are typically designed to make people more comfortable while leaving the healing more or less to the body itself. This ingredient is usually available in either a topical cream or as a suppository. It is frequently paired with petroleum jelly, which coats the hemorrhoid and protects it from irritation. In most cases this sort of medication can be used up to four times a day and typically doesn't cause side effects.

Witch Hazel

Some brands of hemorrhoid medicine contain witch hazel, a type of astrigent that can soothe the pain and itching of hemorrhoids. Witch hazel is a natural derivative that comes from the bark and leaves of the Hamamelis virginiana genus of the plant, which is native to North America. Plants of this variety usually have very high astringent and antiseptic properties.

These sorts of products are commonly sold as pads or towelettes that a person can wipe on the area to soothe the pain, or wear within undergarments for more or less all-day relief. Just because this sort of medication is derived from nature doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe for all people under all conditions, though. Anyone who is considering using witch hazel to treat hemorrhoids or another related condition should usually check with a medical professional first, particularly if the problem seems to be ongoing or doesn’t get better within a few days.

Topical Anesthetics

Other types of hemorrhoid medicines are designed primarily to numb the area to help relieve pain and itching. These often work in the same way as medicines intended to treat things like sunburns and bug bites. They are usually sold as small tubes of cream, and often contain lidocaine or another topical anesthetic. Some medicines combine lidocaine with hydrocortisone or other stronger drugs; the variety of possibilities means that people need to pay close attention to reading labels and looking at usage indications.

Non-Medical Pain Relief

A person suffering from hemorrhoids can take some measures to relieve the pain aside from using specific hemorrhoid creams or medicines. Improving the diet by eating more fiber can reduce straining from constipation and lower the risk of hemorrhoids in the first place, and can decrease inflammation once they’ve happened. Drinking plenty of water and taking laxatives that contain fiber may help reduce constipation as well. Ice packs or soaking in a warm bath can also help relieve pain caused by hemorrhoids, and some people find that using moist towelettes instead of dry toilet paper helps the problem clear up, too.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A.E. Freeman
By A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and retention. With a background in the arts, she combines her writing prowess with best practices to deliver compelling content across various domains and effectively connect with target audiences.
Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Apr 30, 2012

@simrin-- That sounds like the cooling gel I used when I had hemorrhoids during my pregnancy. It's a gel with witch hazel and phenylephrine and works really well. I haven't tried aloe vera for hemorrhoids but I believe you that it works. I know aloe vera is great for skin in general.

Aside from this gel and keeping the area clean by wiping it regularly, I think aspirin helps a lot too. It's good for the pain and since aspirin dilutes blood, it increases blood circulation and quickens healing.

By SteamLouis — On Apr 30, 2012

I'm not an expert, so please ask your doctor first if you want to try this.

Last time I had external hemorrhoids, I used a corticosteroid ointment and had a horrible allergic reaction. My hemorrhoid itched and hurt more after using the ointment then before! I guess I'm allergic to corticosteroid.

Since I couldn't use the ointment, my hemorrhoid got worse in the following couple of days. It was very painful and I couldn't even sit on it. I searched my medicine cabinet for something that would help and found a topical aloe vera gel ointment with lidocaine for cuts and bug bites.

I wasn't sure if this would be safe or not but I was willing to risk it so I applied it on the hemorrhoid. Within five minutes, the pain and itch literally disappeared! I applied the gel several more times for the next two days when the pain came back and it healed my hemorrhoid completely!

I think aloe vera gel has healing properties and of course the lidocaine eased the pain. This is the best hemorrhoid treatment I've ever tried.

By bear78 — On Apr 29, 2012

The only hemorrhoid drug treatments I use are anti-hemorrhoidal topical cream and witch hazel pads.

Witch hazel pads are great. It really cools the area and prevents itching. I especially recommend this for people who are traveling and can't carry a bottle of witch hazel around. I usually wipe the area with one of these pads 2-3 times a day.

After witch hazel, I apply the topical cream. It's a hydrocortisone anti-hemorrhoid cream. It helps with inflammation and pain. I make sure to apply this after bowel movements and before I go to bed. I feel like it heals the hemorrhoid while I sleep.

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and...
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