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What to know about over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments

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OTC optionsSeeking helpPrescription medicationsHome remediesSurgerySummary
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for hemorrhoids include creams, ointments, and suppositories. These can help relieve itchiness, irritation, and pain caused by hemorrhoids.
Medically reviewed by Alexandra Perez, PharmD, MBA, BCGP
Written by Suan Pineda
Updated on

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that can occur inside the rectum or around the anus. They can sometimes cause pain, and you may feel like you need quick relief. OTC treatments can sometimes help ease some symptoms. 

Hemorrhoids can occur inside your anus and rectum (internal). They can also happen under the skin surrounding your anus (external). Hemorrhoids may vary in severity. So it’s always best to contact a healthcare professional when you feel hemorrhoids flare up.

What are some over-the-counter options for hemorrhoids?

Close up of someone with a small amount of cream on the tip of their finger and a tube of cream in the other hand possibly after looking for over-the-counter treatment for hemorrhoids
Photography by Evelien Doosje/Getty Images

OTC hemorrhoid medications do not cure the condition but can help lower some of the pain, irritation, and swelling around the anus. 

Stool softeners

One of the causes of hemorrhoids is straining when you poop. This can happen because of constipation, when poop is hard and difficult to pass. Stool softeners can help you poop more easily and prevent straining. This, in turn, can help relieve the stress on your rectum, anus, and the surrounding blood vessels. 

Some OTC stool softeners include:

  • Colace
  • Correctol Soft Gels
  • Diocto
  • Ex-Lax Stool Softener
  • Fleet Sof-Lax
  • Phillips’ Liqui-Gels
  • Surfak

Topical creams

If you have external hemorrhoids, you can use some OTC topical creams to help relieve itching and swelling. Research from 2018 has shown the effectiveness of these topical creams and gels in lowering discomfort. Some examples of topical creams include:

  • Preparation-H
  • hydrocortisone rectal cream (Proctocort, Anusol-hc)
  • tribenoside and lidocaine (Procto-Glyvenol)
  • zinc oxide (Calmoseptine)
  • Witch hazel gel


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help ease pain caused by hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids can cause sudden and severe pain, especially if a blood clot forms inside the hemorrhoid. Internal hemorrhoids usually don’t cause pain.

OTC pain relievers include:

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Fiber supplements

Fiber can make poop bulkier, which can make it easier to move through the bowels. This helps promote regularity and prevents straining. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of fiber is 28 grams (g) for females ages 19–30 and 34 g for males in the same age range. 

You can find natural fibers in many common foods, like pears, raspberries, almonds, black beans, and barley. Experts recommend that you first try and get the RDA through your diet. But if you’re not getting enough and a healthcare professional agrees, you can consider fiber supplements. 

Fiber supplements can contain natural fibers such as inulin, psyllium, and beta glucan. These supplements may also contain artificial fibers like polydextrose, wheat dextrin, and methylcellulose.

Learn more about fiber supplements.

When to see a doctor

Speak with a healthcare professional if OTC treatments and home remedies do not relieve symptoms after 1 week, or if you see blood in your poop.

Feel free to speak with a doctor or healthcare professional about hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are common, and medical professionals have experience in addressing such concerns. They’ll offer the care and advice you need.

Prescription medications

Sometimes, OTC treatments alone will not provide enough relief for hemorrhoid symptoms. In these cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe medications, including:

Are there any at-home remedies for hemorrhoids?

You may try some things at home to soothe hemorrhoid symptoms. These include:

  • taking a sitz bath with Epsom salt
  • placing ice packs on the affected area 
  • drinking lots of water and fluids
  • applying aloe vera to the affected area

Learn more about home remedies for hemorrhoids.

When is surgery considered for hemorrhoids?

Surgery is rarely required for people with hemorrhoids, with only less than 10% of people needing surgical intervention.

If hemorrhoids are too inflamed or become infected, a healthcare professional may recommend the following surgical procedures:

  • Rubber band ligation: In this procedure, a doctor will place a rubber band around the hemorrhoid to cut blood flow. This causes the hemorrhoids to shrink and go away.
  • Sclerotherapy: This procedure involves a doctor injecting a chemical solution into the hemorrhoid to shrink it.
  • Electrical coagulation: This technique uses infrared light to burn the hemorrhoid.
  • Hemorrhoidectomy and hemorrhoidopexy: These procedures permanently remove hemorrhoids through incisions and stapling.


Hemorrhoids are common. They happen when the blood vessels surrounding and inside your anus and rectum become irritated and inflamed. This leads to pain, itchiness, and discomfort.

Some OTC treatments can provide relief. Examples include ointments, NSAIDs, and fiber supplements that can help relieve constipation and prevent straining.

Speak with a doctor or healthcare professional if OTC treatments do not ease your symptoms after 1 week. They can offer the best advice on managing and treating the condition.

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