How to Choose the Best Over-the-Counter Hemorrhoid Treatment?

Hemorrhoid Treatment

Hemorrhoids are a common but uncomfortable condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Characterized by swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum and anus, hemorrhoids can cause pain, itching, and sometimes bleeding. For many sufferers, over-the-counter (OTC) treatments provide a convenient and effective way to manage symptoms. However, with so many products available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. This guide will help you navigate the options and select the best OTC treatment for hemorrhoids.

Understanding Hemorrhoids

Before diving into treatment options, it’s essential to understand the types of hemorrhoids and their symptoms. Hemorrhoids can be classified into two main categories:

  1. Internal Hemorrhoids: Located inside the rectum, these hemorrhoids are usually painless but may cause bleeding during bowel movements.
  2. External Hemorrhoids: Found under the skin around the anus, these are often more painful and can cause itching and swelling.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Common symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the anal area
  • Itching or irritation
  • Swelling around the anus
  • Bleeding during bowel movements
  • A lump near the anus, which may be sensitive or painful

Types of OTC Hemorrhoid Treatments

Several types of OTC treatments are available, each with its own benefits. Here’s a breakdown of the most common options:

  1. Topical Creams and Ointments: These products are applied directly to the affected area and can provide relief from pain, itching, and inflammation. Ingredients often include hydrocortisone, witch hazel, and lidocaine. For detailed instructions, see how to apply hemorrhoid cream.
  2. Suppositories: These are inserted into the rectum and can help treat internal hemorrhoids by reducing inflammation and providing lubrication to ease bowel movements.
  3. Wipes and Pads: Medicated wipes and pads, often containing witch hazel or aloe vera, can soothe and cleanse the anal area, reducing irritation and discomfort.
  4. Pain Relievers: Oral pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help manage pain and inflammation associated with hemorrhoids.
  5. Fiber Supplements: While not a direct treatment, fiber supplements can help soften stools and reduce straining during bowel movements, which can prevent the worsening of hemorrhoids.

Choosing the Best OTC Hemorrhoid Treatment

When selecting an OTC treatment, consider the following factors:

  1. Type of Hemorrhoid: Determine whether you have internal or external hemorrhoids, as this will influence the type of treatment you need. For internal hemorrhoids, suppositories may be more effective, while creams and wipes are better suited for external hemorrhoids.
  2. Symptoms: Identify your primary symptoms. If itching is your main concern, look for products containing hydrocortisone. For pain relief, lidocaine-based creams may be more effective.
  3. Ingredients: Be aware of the active ingredients in the products. Witch hazel is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, while hydrocortisone can reduce swelling and itching. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that can numb the area and relieve pain.
  4. Ease of Use: Consider how easy the product is to apply. Creams and wipes are generally straightforward, while suppositories may require a bit more effort.
  5. Sensitivity: If you have sensitive skin, choose products that are free from fragrances and dyes to minimize irritation.

Popular OTC Hemorrhoid Treatments

Here are some popular OTC hemorrhoid treatments that are well-reviewed and widely used:

  1. Preparation H: Available in various forms, including creams, ointments, and suppositories, Preparation H is a trusted brand that provides relief from pain, itching, and discomfort. Key ingredients include phenylephrine, which reduces swelling, and hydrocortisone for inflammation.
  2. Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads: These pads contain witch hazel, which has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used to clean the area and provide soothing relief from irritation and itching.
  3. Anusol-HC: This product contains hydrocortisone and is available as a cream or suppository. It is effective in reducing inflammation and itching associated with hemorrhoids.
  4. RectiCare Anorectal Cream: This cream contains lidocaine, a powerful local anesthetic that can numb the affected area and provide significant pain relief.
  5. HemRid Fiber Supplement: This supplement is designed to support digestive health and reduce straining during bowel movements. It’s a great addition to topical treatments for comprehensive management of hemorrhoid symptoms.

Tips for Managing Hemorrhoids

In addition to using OTC treatments, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help manage and prevent hemorrhoids:

  • Increase Fiber Intake: A diet high in fiber can soften stools and reduce the need for straining. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are excellent sources of fiber.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain soft stools and promotes regular bowel movements.
  • Practice Good Hygiene: Keep the anal area clean and dry. Use gentle, unscented soap and pat the area dry after washing.
  • Avoid Straining: Don’t sit on the toilet for extended periods, and avoid straining during bowel movements.
  • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can help stimulate bowel function and reduce pressure on the veins in the rectum and anus.

When to See a Doctor?

While OTC treatments can be effective for mild to moderate hemorrhoid symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice if you experience:

  • Severe pain or discomfort
  • Significant bleeding
  • Symptoms that persist despite treatment
  • A lump that doesn’t go away

A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend advanced treatments if necessary.


Choosing the best OTC hemorrhoid treatment involves understanding your symptoms, knowing the types of products available, and considering factors like ingredients and ease of use. By combining OTC treatments with healthy lifestyle changes, you can effectively manage hemorrhoid symptoms and improve your quality of life. Always consult with a healthcare provider if your symptoms persist or worsen to ensure you receive the most appropriate care.