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How to Treat Hemorrhoids with Over-the-Counter Creams

How to Treat Hemorrhoids with Over-the-Counter Creams
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mavra Farrukh

Overview

Treating hemorrhoids doesn’t have to be a pain in the butt! Check out our guide to treating hemorrhoids at home.

It may seem surprising, but most of the time hemorrhoids can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Doctors usually recommend topical creams to deal with itching, tenderness and pain. More invasive medical treatments are only considered when the symptoms last longer than a week, or there is bleeding from the rectum.

Should I use an over-the-counter cream?

It is usually safe to use over-the-counter creams. However, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor first to ensure if that is the best course of action for you. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or you’re pregnant, a consultation with your physician is a must.

Secondly, you can use these creams but only for a limited time. As some steroid creams can cause thinning of the skin, please do not use them longer than a week, unless directed by your doctor.

Which Creams Work best?

If you are experiencing mild discomfort or slight irritation, you can choose from various over-the-counter creams, ointments, suppositories and pads available at your local pharmacies. These creams would have natural ingredients like witch hazel or steroids like hydrocortisone to help ease the pain and reduce the itching. Using a 1% hydrocortisone cream on the skin can reduce swelling and relieve the symptoms associated with hemorrhoids. You can apply it every two hours for eight hours in the day. However, it is essential to note that these creams should only be applied on the outside.

Alternatively, you can also use witch hazel to treat hemorrhoids at home if you want a more natural alternative. Witch hazel is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that contains tannins and oils, which can temporarily ease discomfort.

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Why do hemorrhoids itch?

Hemorrhoid itching may be induced by scratching the area. Local scratching releases histamines and prostaglandins into the surrounding tissues exacerbating the irritation in the anal region. Reducing stress levels and wearing loose-fitting clothing or cotton undergarments can help alleviate itching. Itching can also be soothed by taking a sitz bath or using an over-the-counter cream or ointment containing hydrocortisone and lidocaine. Lidocaine cream for hemorrhoids helps numb the area temporarily. 

Can stress cause hemorrhoids?

No direct relationship has been established that shows that stress cause hemorrhoids. Although, stress can indirectly cause an upset tummy, leading to stomach cramps, constipation, or diarrhea. Resultantly excess pressure on the anorectal region due to constipation may lead directly to hemorrhoids. Moreover, an inflamed rectum from episodes of diarrhea can worsen and delay hemorrhoids from healing.

How long does it take for hemorrhoids to go away?

There is no specific timeline for when haemorrhoids go away. Minor swelling or mild symptoms can clear up in a few days and resolve without treatment. Although, dietary and lifestyle changes are usually necessary to prevent a recurrence. Enlarged internal hemorrhoids tend to stick out of the anus and are referred to as prolapsed hemorrhoids. Prolapsed hemorrhoids take longer to heal and may require other forms of surgical treatment, like banding of hemorrhoids.

Rectal prolapse vs hemorrhoids

Rectal prolapse occurs when the end part of the colon, before the anal sphincter detaches from inside the body and sticks out of the anus.

Rectal prolapse usually involves an entire segment of the bowel that is located higher up. Hemorrhoids are swollen rectal veins and involve the inner layer of the bowel near the anal opening. Rectal prolapse presents with fecal incontinence.

Rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids can have similar symptoms, including:

  • Bright red blood while wiping
  • Blood in the stool
  • Anal pain
  • Burning, pressure, or itching in the anal region 

Symptoms that are more specific to rectal prolapse include:

  • Leakage of stool
  • A sensation of fullness in the bowel
  • Tissue coming out of the anus that has the appearance of concentric circles(telescoping)

 You can always supplement creams with other home remedies to treat hemorrhoids and reduce the pain. Some of these include:

  • Putting a cold pack on the affected area to numb the pain
  • Warm sitz baths with epsom salt – this will not only keep the area clean but also reduce the swelling
  • Adding more natural fibre to your diet through fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Consume a lot of water to avoid constipation and hard stools
  • Take a stool softener or a fibre supplement
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When to Consult a Doctor

While these remedies can help in treating hemorrhoids, it is still recommended to consult a physician to determine if you need further medical treatment or procedure. Worried you have hemorrhoids? Check out our guide to causes, treatment and prevention here. 

To help you out, our physicians are available for free consultations, round-the-clock. Connect with one of our doctors today to discuss any questions or for treatment options.

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