How Do I Choose the Best Over-the-Counter Hemorrhoids Treatment?

An inflatable doughnut pillow can bring over-the-counter relief to someone suffering from a hemorrhoid.
The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect hemorrhoids.
Article Details
  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing the best over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatment for you depends on the type of hemorrhoids you have and your symptoms. The type of medicine you choose will be different, depending on whether your hemorrhoids are internal or external. Also, you should consider a stool softener if straining is aggravating your hemorrhoids. Keeping the anal area clean can help treat inflammation and itching associated with hemorrhoids, so you should consider various types of cleansers, including astringents and diaper rash ointments. Finally, if you have a serious case of hemorrhoids, you might consider discussing surgery with your doctor.

Internal hemorrhoids typically respond better to anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories than to topical ointments. Conversely, external hemorrhoids, or hemorrhoids that are located outside the rectum, generally respond better to topical ointments. These can be applied directly to the anal area.

For hemorrhoids that itch, whether they are internal or external, over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatment that contain hydrocortisone medication can help decrease itching and inflammation. Other effective over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatments include mild astringents such as witch hazel. Cleansing the anal area throughout the day with an astringent wipes away irritating stool, which can worsen the condition and cause significant burning.

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Another over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatment that helps keep the area clean is pre-moistened hemorrhoid towelettes. These products are typically treated with an astringent-based cleanser and sometimes contain agents to soften the skin, such as aloe. Another very helpful over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatment is diaper rash ointment. The active ingredient in diaper ointments is zinc oxide, which not only helps pain and itch, it also forms a barrier against moisture to help heal irritated and red skin.

Lanolin is another active ingredient that is frequently found in over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatment. It softens the surrounding tissues and helps heal irritated skin. When purchasing over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatments, individuals need to make sure that the product is specifically designed to treat hemorrhoids. Although other products contain lanolin and hydrocortisone, they are not always appropriate to use as a hemorrhoid treatment.

Using stool softeners can reduce the incidence of constipation, a frequent culprit in the development of hemorrhoids. When the stool is softened and is evacuated without straining, an over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatment can work more effectively. When constipation becomes chronic, the physician needs to be notified so he can recommend measures to promote regularity. Although over-the-counter hemorrhoids treatments are often successful in relieving symptoms, sometimes other measures may be needed.

In severe cases where hemorrhoids cause significant pain, bleeding, or burning, or when they are in danger of forming blood clots, surgical intervention might be recommended. Laser surgery often totally eliminates the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Other procedures include ligating the hemorrhoids with a rubber-band type device. This procedure starves the hemorrhoids of blood flow, causing them to shrink. The surgeon can discuss pros and cons of each procedure and recommend the best option for the patient.

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