the drugstore project

The Best At-Home Hemorrhoid Treatments, According to Gastroenterologists

Photo: Mac Gramlich/Getty Images

There’s much more to getting hemorrhoids than sitting for too long. In fact, sitting is one of the least common ways to develop hemorrhoids, which are swollen and enlarged veins in the rectum and anus. They’re typically caused by more active activities than sitting. “Any increase in intra-abdominal pressure or pelvic pressure can exacerbate hemorrhoids,” says Dr. Judy Nee, a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. And though that definition can technically include sitting, your bowel movements are much more likely to be the cause, especially if you have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome, rather than spending too much time at your desk. Other strenuous activities like childbirth or weight-lifting can also be the culprit.

So once your doctor diagnoses you with hemorrhoids, the first step for treatment is actually “getting down to the root of why they’ve happened,” says Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman, a gastroenterologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, because if you don’t solve the original issue you start on a “vicious cycle.” It’s only after you implement a solution to prevent hemorrhoids moving forward — like taking a laxative to thwart constipation and straining while going to the bathroom — that you can tackle them. There are different treatments for internal hemorrhoids, which stand up in the anus, and external ones, which drop down outside the anus, so below, we have recommendations for different over-the-counter creams, wipes, and bath-like products that will reduce any of the itching, swelling, burning, or discomfort that can come with both types.

Best topical treatments for hemorrhoids

This is probably the most well-known over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatment, and it came recommended to us by all six of the gastroenterologists interviewed. Schnoll-Sussman likes this treatment because it has “a combination of steroids and lidocaine,” which are sometimes necessary for treating hemorrhoids. The steroids “shrink the area down,” according to Schnoll-Sussman, while the lidocaine numbs it. Together, they treat itching, burning, and general discomfort. All you have to do is apply a layer to your external hemorrhoids with your finger for it to work.

Photo: Courtesy the vendor

But if you have internal hemorrhoids, you’ll need to purchase the treatment in suppository form, which will help you insert the ointment into your anus. Because it’s a hardened version of the hemorrhoidal cream and inserted with your finger, “it’ll soften and melt in your bottom,” says Schnoll-Sussman, so it directly reaches your internal hemorrhoids. And if the over-the-counter treatments don’t seem to help either internal or external hemorrhoids, talk to your doctor, who can prescribe a higher steroid percentage.

Schnoll-Sussman also tends to recommend Tucks, formerly known as Anusol, for patients with itchy or irritated hemorrhoids. And though Tucks doesn’t help shrink hemorrhoids like Preparation-H does, their multi-relief care kit can help with some of the most uncomfortable symptoms. As Nee explains, it contains a maximum strength lidocaine cream to treat pain and numb the area, and medicated witch hazel wipes to soothe any itchiness or burning that may occur. Combined, they can decrease swelling and pain.

Best butt-cleaning products

A big part of treating hemorrhoids isn’t a specific ointment or cream — it’s just proper anal care. A lot of patients with hemorrhoids have other conditions (like IBS) that make going to the bathroom difficult. So with that in mind, Schnoll-Sussman says, “Something that causes a lot of discomfort for people is when they do finally go to the bathroom, they have to use really abrasive toilet paper to wipe themselves, which not only hurts but also irritates hemorrhoids as well.” She recommends very gentle baby wipes instead of toilet paper. These Burt’s Bees baby wipes are chlorine-, fragrance-, and irritant-free, and they have a clothlike texture, so they’re extra gentle on sensitive areas.

Or, if you prefer to flush the wipes afterwards instead of throwing them away, the gentle version of Cottonelle’s sewer-safe, plumber-tested flushable wipes might be more up your alley. They’re lubricated, which Schnoll-Sussman tends to recommend, yet they’re infused with aloe and Vitamin E, ensuring they’ll be extra gentle on your bottom and might even soothe the area.

Best bottom soothers

“One of the best things to do for people that have active hemorrhoids is basically to sit in a b