Is Zinc Oxide Effective Against Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids can come with many symptoms, including pain, burning, irritation, and itching. All of these are unpleasant to experience and can significantly affect your quality of life. 

Many creams, ointments, and suppositories contain zinc oxide as an active ingredient. In this article, we’ll cover what hemorrhoids are, the properties of zinc oxide, and how to use zinc oxide for hemorrhoids. 

Have you considered clinical trials for Hemorrhoids?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hemorrhoids, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

What are hemorrhoids? 

Hemorrhoids are a common occurrence across the world, with the self-reported incidence of hemorrhoids in the US being approximately 10 million per year.¹

Hemorrhoids are naturally occurring clusters of smooth muscle and connective and vascular tissue present in the anal canal. They are effective in maintaining stool continence. However, the term hemorrhoid is generally used to characterize symptomatic hemorrhoid disease. 

Symptomatic hemorrhoids are the enlargement and displacement of the normal anal cushions. Common symptoms include: 

  • Painless rectal bleeding during bowel movements

  • Irritation around the rectal area

  • Anal itching 

  • A feeling of rectal fullness

  • Anal pain 

How does zinc oxide work? 

Zinc has been utilized for dermatological use for various skin conditions. In particular, it has shown promise for acne vulgaris, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis. Zinc oxide works by forming a protective barrier to prevent irritation when defecating.

Topical preparations, including zinc oxide, have been used as soothing agents for centuries. Therefore, it’s no surprise that it remains an active ingredient for topical creams used to soothe the irritation and inflammation from hemorrhoids. 

Health professionals generally recommend anti-inflammatory creams containing zinc for the treatment of hemorrhoids, as they can help with itching and irritations. 

Common creams for hemorrhoids that contain zinc oxide include: 

  • Anusol 

  • Boots Haemorrhoid Relief Ointment 

  • Germoloids Cream 

  • Desitin 

  • Boudreaux’s Butt Paste 

  • Calmoseptine 

How to use zinc oxide for hemorrhoids 

Applying zinc oxide to hemorrhoids will depend on whether you have external or internal hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids are known to be painful and can cause swelling. They are often visible as they occur externally from the anal canal. 

Internal hemorrhoids are traditionally thought to cause no pain, but research has shown symptoms to include itching, burning, and bleeding. 

For internal hemorrhoids

Suppositories are a great option for internal hemorrhoids. This is because topical ointments and creams cannot be inserted into the anal canal to treat the hemorrhoids. Suppositories melt at body temperature, so after they’re inserted, the zinc oxide in the suppository will be released. 

In most cases, minor cases of internal hemorrhoids should subside after a few days of using suppositories. Suppositories that contain zinc oxide, such as Anusol (which also contains cocoa butter), help form a protective barrier around the affected area. 

For external hemorrhoids

For external hemorrhoids, topical creams and ointments may be beneficial. In particular, research has shown that zinc oxide cream (including Calmoseptine) can be beneficial for those with hemorrhoids when applied once or twice a day to the affected area.²

Zinc oxide works well in topical applications as it has astringent and antiseptic properties, meaning it can shrink swelling and soothe and protect the area around the anus. 

What are the side effects of zinc oxide?

Zinc oxide is generally well tolerated by most of the population. However, as with all new treatments, it’s best to let your health professional know what you’re using and ask for their recommendations. 

It’s also advised to conduct a quick patch test before use (with regards to the topical zinc oxide) in case of an allergic reaction. 

Common side effects of zinc oxide include:

  • Itching and swelling (especially on the face or mouth)

  • Trouble breathing

  • Dizziness

  • Rash in the area applied

  • Hives

  • Skin rash

  • Itching in the area applied

For most users, there are generally no serious side effects experienced, especially if you’re following the correct dosage. However, it’s important to get in contact with emergency services if you notice serious side effects, including:

  • Serious eye symptoms (blurred vision, vision loss, eye pain)

  • Serious heart symptoms (shortness of breath, passing out, fast or irregular heartbeats)

  • Serious cases of headaches, loss of coordination, trouble walking, tremors, or high fever

Dosage and other treatment options 

Topical ointments containing zinc oxide usually range in concentration (from 10% to 40%). Zinc oxide suppositories are usually 10% zinc oxide (the popular Anusol suppositories contain 296mg zinc oxide). Most zinc oxide over-the-counter treatments will have a pamphlet that details dosage requirements. This can vary depending on the brand you choose and the concentration, so it’s advisable to have a good read-through before starting. Suppositories can generally be used up to six times daily. 

In most cases, you can stop treatment once the hemorrhoids subside. However, for more severe cases or if the treatment doesn’t seem to be working, it’s best to talk to your doctor. They may recommend other treatments, including: 

  • Medications with a different type of active ingredient (lidocaine, hydrocortisone, nitroglycerine). 

  • Lifestyle changes (dietary modifications, increased water intake)

  • Behavioral therapies

  • Rubber band ligation

  • Surgery 

The lowdown 

Zinc oxide is an active ingredient in many popular treatment options for internal and external hemorrhoids. They are effective treatments and help form a protective barrier around the anus, which may reduce pain, swelling, and itching. 

Zinc oxide is generally well-tolerated by the general population, but if you experience any side effects, talk to a health professional. They may advise you to change your dosage or try a different treatment option. 

Frequently asked questions

What causes hemorrhoids around the anus?

The cause of hemorrhoids is believed to be multifactorial. Some causes include pregnancy, chronic straining from passing stool, anal sex, diets low in fiber, and constipation. 

What does zinc oxide do for hemorrhoids?

Topical application of zinc oxides or zinc oxides in suppositories can help relieve burning, pain, itching, and irritation from hemorrhoids. It works by forming a protective barrier around the anus, allowing you to pass stool pain-free. 

How do you apply zinc oxide cream?

Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after applying the zinc oxide cream. You may also want to gently wash the affected area with water or mild soap before applying. 

Apply a thin layer to the anus area and on the hemorrhoids several times a day on an as-needed basis. Remember to follow the instructions on the leaflet, and ask your doctor if you need further advice.

Have you considered clinical trials for Hemorrhoids?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hemorrhoids, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Discover which clinical trials you are eligible for

Do you want to know if there are any Hemorrhoids clinical trials you might be eligible for?
Have you taken medication for Hemorrhoids?
Have you been diagnosed with Hemorrhoids?