If you suffer from hemorrhoids, you may have used over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments to relieve symptoms. But are these medications as useful as you think?
Medicated Over-The-Counter Hemorrhoid Treatments
Medicated over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments include products like creams, pads, and suppositories that contain medications like hydrocortisone, witch hazel, or numbing agents to relieve pain and itching. Oral pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil can also help treat hemorrhoid symptoms.
Brands like Preparation H include a decongestant that acts like a vasoconstrictor, meaning it shrinks blood vessels and temporarily relives pain and swelling associated with hemorrhoids. This medication can come in creams, suppositories, or pads.
These treatments are considered effective in treating the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Do not use over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments for more than a week unless directed by your doctor.
Over-application of treatments like pads and creams can cause your skin to thin out. If you have certain medical problems like high blood pressure or you are taking certain medications, talk to your doctor before starting a home treatment regimen.
Non-Medicated Over-The-Counter Hemorrhoid Treatments
There are also non-medicated over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments that include:
- Sitz baths: These warm baths can help reduce swelling and relaxes your muscles.
- Cold packs: Ice helps numb pain and reduce swelling. Remember to wrap the ice in a towel and apply for only several minutes at a time to prevent ice burns.
- Eating high-fiber foods: A fiber-rich diet makes going easier and helping prevent constipation that can worsen hemorrhoids.
- Moist wipes: These wipes are gentler than dry tissue paper and will not irritate hemorrhoids as much. Wipes can also be medicated and contain ingredients like witch hazel and aloe.
These treatments are considered effective in helping relieve pain, itching, and swelling associated with hemorrhoids and are sometimes the only treatment some people need to find relief.
However, it is important to remember to use caution while self-treating at home — especially if taking dietary supplements or using “natural” remedies. These can interfere with prescription medications you may be taking or irritate your skin. Before starting at-home hemorrhoid treatments, talk to your doctor.
What If Over-The-Counter Treatments Are Ineffective?
Despite the effectiveness of over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments, it’s important to remember that what works for one person may not for another.
If you find that your hemorrhoids aren’t responding to over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments, reach out to your doctor to discuss non-surgical treatment options like rubber band ligation. Your doctor will be able to recommend treatment options based on your needs.
You can sometimes prevent hemorrhoids from developing in the first place by living a healthy lifestyle and practicing healthy bathroom habits like not straining or sitting on the toilet too long. If your hemorrhoids start bleeding, contact your doctor.