Hemorrhoids are swollen, sensitive veins in the rectum most often caused by straining during bowel evacuation or pregnancy. Half of those over the age of 50 have suffered from hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, so it is a common if embarrassing problem. Besides more extreme surgical correction, a palliative treatment is often used to soothe the soreness and itching of hemorrhoids. Mayo Clinic staff advise not using any treatment longer than a week because of the likelihood of developing a rash or thinning of the skin as a side effect. There are several of the common over-the-counter (OTC) treatments that treat this painful condition.
Preparation H is a well-known treatment for hemorrhoids available in OTC cream, suppository and ointment forms under several different names. A study reported by the National Institutes of Health showed that Preparation H seemed to advance healing over a two week period of use as well as giving some comfort to sufferers. The ingredients in Preparation H include phenylephrine, phenylephrine hydrochloride, shark liver oil and zinc oxide in 0.25 to 11 percent strengths. The generic phenylephrine topical medication is available under brand names such as Anusert Ointment, Formulation R, Hemorid, Hemorrhoidal, Hemorrhoidal Ointment, Hemorrhoidal Suppository (Qualitest), Prep-Hem, Preparation H, Preparation H Suppositories, Prompt Relief and Rectasol.
Hydrocortisone Topical Treatments
Hydrocortisone topical treatments contain synthetic steroids as anti-inflammatory anti-pruritic treatment for rectal itching and are also recommended by Mayo Clinic staff. Active ingredients include hydrocortisone acetate and lidocaine hydrochloride in 0.5 to 3 percent strengths in creams and lotions. Brand names include AnaMantle HC, Hydrocortisone Acetate-Lidocaine, Hydrochloride, LidaMantle HC and Lidazone HC.
Witch Hazel is an astringent that can help numb the itching and pain of hemorrhoids. It is available in liquid-soaked pads for topical administration. Besides the popular Tucks brand, the product is available as T.N. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel Pads with Aloe, Rite Aid Medicated Pads and Walgreen’s Pre-Moistened Pads, with each brand available in a variety of dispensing quantities.
Richard Nilsen writes poetry, fiction, features and news stories in upstate New York. He was an emergency mental-health consultant for 20 years and directed a mentoring agency for a decade. Nilsen is a black-fly control technician in the Adirondack Park, where he enjoys hiking, biking and boating.