Hemorrhoids are varicose veins (swollen veins) in or around the anal area. There are two types of hemorrhoids, internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are varicose veins inside the anus. External hemorrhoids are varicose veins on the outside of the anus. Despite the claims of manufacturers, hemorrhoid creams do not get rid of hemorrhoids, but instead relieve the symptoms of pain, burning and itching that they can produce. Doctors can perform medical procedures to remove hemorrhoids that are causing annoying discomfort.

Hemorrhoid Creams

Hemorrhoid medications come in cream and suppository forms. Both types are designed for external hemorrhoids. There are currently no FDA-approved creams for treating internal hemorrhoids. The active ingredients in the cream and suppository forms are the same.

Active Ingredients

Different products will contain different ingredients and treat different symptoms. The following list contains common ingredients and explains their functions. Some of the ingredients listed are found in over-the-counter products, while others are only found in prescription products. Analgesic--An analgesic provides a cooling sensation that relieves pain and itching. Menthol is an example of an analgesic. Anesthetic--An anesthetic temporarily numbs the area to provide relief from pain, itching and burning. Benzocaine is an example of an anesthetic. Astringent--An astringent cools and calms the area to help relieve itching and burning. Witch hazel is one of the most popular ingredients found in hemorrhoid creams. Horse Chestnut Seed Extract is derived from a plant and is found in some natural hemorrhoid creams. It reduces inflammation in the area. Homemade Horse Chestnut Seed Extract should not be used because it contains esculin, which is poisonous. The plant must be properly processed to remove the poison. A moisturizer is used to hydrate the skin in order to help prevent itching. A cream that contains a moisturizer is helpful if itching is associated with dryness. Glycerin is an example of a moisturizer. A steroidal reduces inflammation in the area, which helps to relieve pain, itching and burning. Hydrocortisone is an example of a steroidal. A vasoconstrictor reduces blood flow to the area, which reduces inflammation and helps to relieve symptoms of pain, itching and burning. Ephedrine is an example of a vasoconstrictor.


Do not use hemorrhoid creams for longer than the package suggests, unless you have a doctor's approval. Do not use more than the package suggests. If you are taking other medications, check with your pharmacist to determine if there are any possible drug reactions when simultaneously taking those medications with hemorrhoid creams. This article is not meant to replace medical advice. Always check with a medical professional regarding diagnosis and treatment.