Hemorrhoid creams are mainly used to get rid of the primary symptoms of hemorrhoids such as pain and itching. They do not cure hemorrhoids. Creams that are available in the market should be used based on the type of hemorrhoid – external or internal hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoid creams are available in two forms the cream form and the suppository form.
What a Hemorrhoid cream does?
In general a Hemorrhoid cream does the following:
- Reduce inflammation of the hemorrhoid tissue.
- Relieve pain and itching due to swelling.
- Reduces pain during bowel movements.
- Promote healing of the damaged tissue.
- Normalize the blood flow to the anorectal region.
- Lubricate the sensitive pathways and thus ease the passage of stools.
Commonly used ingredients of hemorrhoid cream
Working of a hemorrhoid cream depends on the ingredients contained in it. Few creams help to relieve the itching and pain while few reduce inflammation. Some of the commonly used ingredients include:
Analgesic agent: Compounds such as menthol and camphor have analgesic properties i.e. they relieve the pain and itching by offering a cool sensation. Generally, less than one percent concentration of menthol or three percent concentration of camphor is used.
Anesthetic: Agent that relieves pain and burning sensation by temporarily numbing the area is termed as anesthetic agents. Benzocaine is the anesthetic agent commonly used for hemorrhoids.
Astringent: Astringents such as Witch hazel relieve the burning and itching sensation by giving a cool feeling.
Horse Chestnut seed extract is used in few natural creams helps to relieve inflammation of the hemorrhoid tissue. However, the plant has to be processed appropriately to get rid of the poison before deriving the seed extract.
Moisturizing agents such as glycerin help to relieve the itching by hydrating the skin.
Steroids such as hydrocortisone reduce inflammation and offer relief from itching, burning sensation and pain. These are found mainly in prescription creams and work well for people with very low degree of swelling and itching.
Vasoconstrictors such as Ephedrine reduce inflammation by reducing blood supply to the area. Thus, they help to reduce pain and itching associated with swelling.
Certain herbal hemorrhoid creams are made of Aloe Vera and they reduce itching by making the area smooth.
Choosing the right hemorrhoid cream and precautions
- Know the type of your skin. If you have got an oily skin go for creams and if you have dry skin go for ointments. Oil present in ointments softens the dry skin and reduces irritation while passing the stools. If people with oily skin use ointments, then it would take comparatively longer period for the ointment to show its action.
- Know the symptoms. If you have external hemorrhoids then choose a cream specific for it. If you have internal hemorrhoids then go for creams designed for them. Never use external hemorrhoid creams for internal hemorrhoids.
Precautions to be followed while using hemorrhoid creams
Most of the hemorrhoid creams can be purchased over the counter without the need for prescription. Hence, be very careful while choosing them.
- Do not use the cream for prolonged periods or more number of times in a day than suggested on the package or by the physician. Long term usage of these creams causes thinning of the anal tissues.
- Check with your physician if usage of creams interferes with other hemorrhoids medications being used by you.
- Use the creams as per the instructions given in the package. Do not use creams designed for external hemorrhoids to treat internal hemorrhoids.
- Follow proper hygiene while applying the cream. Clean the area to be applied as well as the finger or the applicator thoroughly before applying the cream.
- Check the list of ingredients to know if you are allergic to any of the ingredients contained in the cream.
- Use mild creams initially and then go for stronger ones gradually until you get satisfactory results. This is very important if you have bleeding hemorrhoids. Stronger creams can cause damage to the anal tissue and you may also develop resistance to it. Hence, use stronger cream only if required.
- Increased use of hydrocortisone creams irritates the anal tissue. Hence, use them carefully. If you are not comfortable using hydrocortisone creams change to zinc oxide based creams.
- If you have missed a dose do not use more cream to try compensating the missed dose.
- Store the creams appropriately as given in the indications.