Hemorrhoids occur in about half of all adults over the age of 50, according to the Mayo Clinic. Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus or rectum caused by excessive pressure from difficult bowel movements or pregnancy. Most hemorrhoids are treated with over-the-counter and prescription drugs containing steroids.
Steroid creams, including over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams, reduce the inflammation that causes the hemorrhoid to bulge. Steroid creams also relieve anal itch and minor pain associated with hemorrhoids by providing relief to the irritated skin, according to the National Library of Medicine. Steroids do not alleviate the source of the problem, they treat the symptoms.
The most common steroids used are ones available over-the-counter (OTC). Most of these come in the form of an ointment, cream or a pad. Other steroids used to treat hemorrhoids are prescribed by a doctor depending on how severe your condition is. Most OTC medications are effective on minor to moderate hemorrhoids, but may not be as effective on more severe cases. If you do not notice an improvement within one week of using an OTC steroid drug, talk to your doctor about other options.
The National Library of Medicine states that the common side effects of using steroids to treat hemorrhoids are an outbreak of acne, itching, burning, cracking of the skin, thinning of skin and a change in the color of the skin. You should stop use immediately and talk with your doctor if you experience any signs of a severe allergic reaction such as shortness of breath, hives, swelling of the lips and difficulty swallowing.
Before you use steroids for hemorrhoids you should inform your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any cortisone or steroid drugs. Disclose any other drugs or supplements (herbs, vitamins) you are currently taking, including other OTC drugs. Let your doctor know if you currently have an infection, suffer from an immune disorder, have a history of diabetes or glaucoma. If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or you are breastfeeding, tell your doctor. Steroids are not recommended for children under the age of 2, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Communicate with your doctor and keep all appointments. Do not stop using a prescribed steroid cream if the symptoms go away. In many cases, symptoms may subside but the need for medication is essential to prevent hemorrhoids from returning. Do not use other prescription medications and do not share yours with anyone else. Keep a list of medications your are currently taking on your person in the event of a medical emergency.
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