1. All hemorrhoid creams are not the same

It is estimated that almost 50% of adults will be affected by hemorrhoids at some time during their lives Consider, if you will – the lucrative market that exists in terms of over the counter remedies that people would purchase in order to relieve a nasty and uncomfortable problem. Creams and lotions are developed and sold to suit the pockets of those who will purchase them, and the list of ingredients will vary depending on where they are targeted.

2. Over- the-counter creams and prescription creams

One important difference between the creams and lotions that are prescribed by your GP versus purchased from your local pharmacy is how they are intended to be used. There is a big difference between creams which are intended to be applied internally and those intended for external use.

Creams intended for internal use are much more likely to have a lower quantity of active ingredient, as the take-up into the bloodstream is higher through internal membranes than through the skin. External hemorrhoid treatments will have a different, probably higher concentration of active ingredient and generally different carrying agents.

Prolapsed hemorrhoids are considered internal hemorrhoids, and external hemorrhoid cream should not be applied to these. Prescription lotions and creams (or over-the counter remedies advised by your medical practitioner) should be used for these.

3. Some hemorrhoid treatment ingredients can be harmful to you

Certain hemorrhoid creams can be harmful to you and your skin if used unwisely, or in excess. In the last two decades, the use of hydrocortisone in over the counter topical remedies has proliferated hugely. We use it for itchy skin, to help relieve small wounds, eczema, psoriasis, in fact just about any rash that we cannot explain. The same is true in the treatment of hemorrhoids.

Hydrocortisone helps to reduce inflammation in the body. It mimics the inflammation reducing hormone produced naturally by the body, and is extremely effective in helping to relive minor inflammation, pain and swelling in soft tissues. Enter the hemorrhoid scene – hydrocortisone is considered effective at reducing the swelling and itchiness caused by swollen hemorrhoidal tissue.

4. Side effects of hydrocortisone

Excessive use of hydrocortisone leads to thinning of the skin. In an area of great sensitivity, where hard objects (hard stools in cases of constipation) are forced across and against thinned tissue, damage will occur. Thinned skin does not heal quickly. While hydrocortisone is shown to help healing in minor tissue damage, used long-term or in excess, it can cause serious problems. Skin which does not heal properly or quickly is prone to infection, in extreme cases this can lead to septicemia. The solution is to use creams containing hydrocortisone sparingly, and infrequently.

5. Natural treatments do help

Creams and lotions containing natural ingredients can and do help relieve hemorrhoids. Homeopathic creams are considered effective and are a viable alternative to the medicated creams and lotions for sale.