Pregnancy is a time of physical and emotional changes, and one common issue that many women experience during pregnancy is hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins in the anus and rectum that can cause discomfort, itching, and bleeding. While hemorrhoids are common and usually harmless, they can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily activities. If you are pregnant and experiencing hemorrhoids, you may wonder which hemorrhoid cream is safe to use during pregnancy. This article will provide information on the safety of different hemorrhoid creams during pregnancy and tips for managing and preventing hemorrhoids.
Types of Hemorrhoid Creams
Several types of hemorrhoid creams are available over the counter (OTC), and they can be divided into two main categories: creams that provide relief from symptoms and creams that reduce inflammation.
Symptom relief creams contain ingredients that numb the area and provide temporary relief from the pain and itching associated with hemorrhoids. Examples of active ingredients in symptom-relief creams include benzocaine, hydrocortisone, and pramoxine.
Inflammation-reducing creams contain ingredients that reduce inflammation and swelling in the veins, which can help reduce the size of the hemorrhoids. Examples of active ingredients found in inflammation-reducing creams include hydrocortisone, calendula, and witch hazel.
Safety of Hemorrhoid Creams during Pregnancy
It is generally safe to use symptom relief creams during pregnancy, as they do not penetrate the skin deeply and are not absorbed into the bloodstream significantly. Hemorrhoid symptoms, such as pain and itching, can be relieved using these creams. However, using these creams sparingly and only as needed is important, as overuse can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. It is also important to avoid using creams that contain local anesthetics, such as benzocaine, near the genitals, as they can cause a burning sensation.
Inflammation-reducing creams containing hydrocortisone are generally safe to use during pregnancy, as they are absorbed into the bloodstream in small amounts and do not risk the fetus. These creams can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the veins, reducing the size of the hemorrhoids. However, using these creams sparingly and only as needed is important, as overuse can cause skin irritation and thin.
It is generally not recommended to use creams containing other corticosteroids, such as triamcinolone, during pregnancy, as they can be absorbed into the bloodstream in larger amounts and may pose a risk to the fetus. It is also important to avoid using creams that contain ingredients such as tretinoin or salicylic acid, as they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and may cause birth defects or other adverse effects. It is important to choose the right OTC hemorrhoid cream carefully and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Tips for Managing and Preventing Hemorrhoids during Pregnancy
In addition to using hemorrhoid creams, there are several other steps you can take to manage and prevent hemorrhoids during pregnancy:
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids can help prevent constipation, a common cause of hemorrhoids. Aim for at least 8-10 cups of fluids per day, and choose water, juice, and other beverages low in sugar and caffeine.
- Eat a high-fiber diet: A diet rich in fiber can help prevent constipation and improve bowel movements. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help improve bowel function and prevent constipation. Walking, swimming, and other low-impact activities are generally safe during pregnancy.
- Avoid straining during bowel movements: Straining during bowel movements can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum, leading to the development of hemorrhoids. To avoid straining, take your time when using the bathroom and use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge to go. You can also try using a stool or footstool to elevate your feet, which can help relax the muscles in your rectum and make it easier to pass stools.
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods: Prolonged sitting or standing can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum, leading to hemorrhoids. To reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, take breaks and stretch your legs regularly if you sit or stand for long periods.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects: Lifting heavy objects can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum, leading to hemorrhoids. If you need to lift heavy objects, use proper lifting techniques to reduce the risk of injury.
- Practice good hygiene: Keeping the area clean and dry can help prevent irritation and infection. After using the bathroom, wipe gently with soft, unscented toilet paper and avoid using perfumed wipes or deodorants.
Hemorrhoids are a common and usually harmless condition that can occur during pregnancy. While hemorrhoid creams can provide temporary relief from the symptoms of hemorrhoids, it is important to choose a cream that is safe to use during pregnancy. Symptom relief creams containing benzocaine, hydrocortisone, or pramoxine are generally safe during pregnancy, as are inflammation-reducing creams containing hydrocortisone. It is important to use these creams sparingly and only as needed and avoid using creams containing other types of corticosteroids or potentially harmful ingredients.
In addition to using hemorrhoid creams, there are several other steps you can take to manage and prevent hemorrhoids during pregnancy, such as staying hydrated, eating a high-fiber diet, exercising regularly, avoiding straining during bowel movements, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, avoiding lifting heavy objects, and practicing good hygiene. If you want to track your pregnancy and learn more about what to expect, you can also use the NHS Pregnancy Calculator to help you estimate your due date and follow your pregnancy week by week.