How to Treat Hemorrhoids with Over-the-Counter Creams

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


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.

Effective Hemorrhoid Creams Ingredients

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.

Chat With a Doctor to get a Hemorrhoidal cream

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.

Mild internal hemorrhoids usually resolve on their own in a few days but can last a week. Larger hemorrhoids can last for longer, such as 2-3 weeks.

5 Best Over-the-counter Hemorrhoid Creams 

Doctor Butler’s Hemorrhoid & Fissure Ointment

It is often recommended by doctors as it treats a variety of symptoms. It is formulated as an ointment to help moisturize and protect the painful fissures that are often associated with hemorrhoids. 

  • Pros
  • Provides quick pain relief
  • It does not stain clothing
  • Contains a combination of herbs and amino acids
  • Convenient packaging
  • Cons
  • Expensive
  • Usually not effective for fissures

How does it work?

Lidocaine is the main ingredient that helps numb the pain. Moreover, phenylephrine is also present, which shrinks the enlarged veins. Aloe vera and horse chestnut are other soothing agents that help calm itching and inflammation. 

Anusol Plus Hemorrhoidal Ointment

Anusol Plus is another popular choice. It is considered the best treatment for external hemorrhoids by many physicians.

  • Pros
  • It contains zinc that promotes skin healing and protection
  • It can be used for a longer duration as compared to other ointments that contain hydrocortisone
  • Cons
  • A prescription is required for formulation that contains hydrocortisone.

How does it work?

  • Zinc oxide, commonly formulated as zinc sulfate is a mineral often used to treat diaper rashes. Zinc has healing properties and helps protect sensitive and damaged skin. Anusol Plus also contains pramoxine, which helps numb the pain. 

Hilph Perineal Ice Packs

These ice packs are very effective for postpartum women. The shape and size make them perfect for application and provide instant cooling and soothing effect to irritated hemorrhoids. In addition, ice is a powerful pain reliever as it has a numbing effect.

  • Pros
  • Rapid pain relief
  • Gentle on skin
  • Cons
  • Can be hard to keep in in one place

How does it work?

  • These ice packs are made of include soft and skin-friendly covers, stay flexible even when frozen, so they don’t worsen irritation. In addition, the covers are washable, as they can be reused. There are two ice packs which can be switched as needed.

Thena Natural Wellness Organic Sitz Bath Soak

  • Pros
  • Softens skin
  • It contains a mixture of soothing and natural oils
  • Safe to use during pregnancy
  • Cons
  • May cause irritation

How does it work?

A sitz bath can be a very effective and soothing treatment for hemorrhoids. The warm water and the Epsom salts work wonders. Sitz baths improve blood flow to the internal anal sphincter and relax the muscle. This sitz bath, made by Thena, is a mixture of Epsom salts, dead sea salt, coconut and magnesium oils. All these ingredients add to the soothing and healing effect reducing inflammation. The blend can be dissolved into a special sitz device or added directly to a warm bath within your tub.

Preparation H Soothing Relief Anti-Itch Cream

  • Pros
  • Provides immediate relief
  • Packaging is convenient 
  • Cons
  • Reapplication is usually needed

How does it work?

  • This Soothing Relief Anti-Itch Cream by Preparation H helps provide relief from itching. This cream contains 1% hydrocortisone, that provides instant and long-lasting itch relief. You don’t need a prescription for this concentration. Hydrocortisone hemorrhoid products are applied for one week or so unless instructed by a doctor.

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
Chat with a Doctor to get a Prescription or treatment for hemorrhoids

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.

Can hydrocortisone cream be used on hemorrhoids?

This cream contains 1% hydrocortisone which provides instant and long-lasting itch relief. 

What shrinks hemorrhoids fast?

Consuming a high fiber food, using hemorrhoidal creams and topical treatment, taking a sitz bath and applying cold packs can help shrink hemorrhoids.

What is the best way to get rid of external hemorrhoids?

Topical treatment, such as over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or hydrocortisone suppositories, can help treat external hemorrhoids. 

How quickly does hemorrhoid cream work?

It can take a few days to a week for the cream to work and symptoms to improve. 

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