If you are experiencing or living with hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend certain medications and home remedies to provide relief. The two most commonly used medications are Preparation H and Desitin - but it's not always obvious which is more effective.
In this post, we'll give a brief rundown of both medications so you can choose the right one for your specific hemorrhoid condition.
At a Glance - Preparation H vs. Desitin
Critics argue that Preparation H is ideal for hemorrhoids because it is specifically designed to mitigate related symptoms. It contains four active ingredients that can manage the discomfort and pain associated with hemorrhoids as well as reduce the hemorrhoidal tissue. Desitin, on the other hand, contains just one active ingredient to help with rectal discomfort.
Desitin is mainly recommended for hemorrhoids in children because doctors advise against numbing the region and making the symptoms worse by using too many active ingredients. Adults, however, are often instructed to use Preparation H because it is far more effective against hemorrhoids.
Head to Head Comparison of Active Ingredients
The primary active ingredient in Desitin is Zinc Oxide. It is used to provide relief from the pain and itching caused by hemorrhoids. Zinc oxide is originally intended to manage skin rashes and irritations, making it a convenient ingredient for combating hemorrhoids.
On the other hand, Preparation H has four active ingredients that are highly effective in protecting against hemorrhoids. These are White petrolatum at 15%, Glycerin at 14.4%, Phramoxine HCL at 1%, and Phenylephrine HCL at 0.25%.
Both White Petrolatum and Glycerin provide protection to the skin. They share very similar properties to Zinc Oxide, which means they create a protective barrier around the skin to keep outside contaminants and irritants at bay. This can prevent the development of infection later on. Zinc Oxide on its own is more powerful than White Petrolatum and Glycerin. However, the dual combination of active ingredients in Preparation H makes the ointment more effective at protecting the skin.
Preparation H also contains pramoxine, a local anesthetic that works by temporarily numbing the rectal area. This will provide immediate pain relief to anyone undergoing severe discomfort. It is worth noting that zinc oxide may provide minor pain relief, but the effect is like comparing apples to oranges. It does not have numbing properties like pramoxine.
Pramoxine HCL works by interfering with pain signals dispatched to the brain by nerves.
Head to Head Comparison of Inactive Ingredients
One of the most effective inactive ingredients found in Preparation H is aloe vera. Other inactive ingredients found in Preparation H, such as carboxymethyl cellulose, may not be ideal for the body but can add bulk to stool.
Desitin has several inactive ingredients that can play a good role in mitigating hemorrhoids. These ingredients are cod liver oil, glycerin, vitamin E, lanolin, and beeswax. This ingredient set makes Desitin better for use with infants and is more effective at treating skin damage.
Why Desitin is Recommended for Infants
Infants are highly vulnerable to diaper rash - which they are more likely to develop than hemorrhoids. It can be frustrating for parents to see their child in pain. This is where Desitin comes in. The highly potent zinc oxide formula (often supplemented with glycerin) pulls moisture from the air into the skin to form a barrier on the baby's skin. The zinc oxide can also speed up the skin's recovery.
With that said, zinc oxide is not a vasoconstrictor (to help with blood flow) or an astringent (to constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling. This means it will not do anything to shrink the hemorrhoids.
Preparation H contains potent doses of vasoconstrictors to narrow the blood vessels and arteries. Moreover, when it is applied to the hemorrhoids, the astringent will play a role in reducing the swollen tissue and effectively managing hemorrhoid symptoms.
Which Mediation Has the Least Side Effects?
Both Preparation H and Desitin are well tolerated by adults and infants alike. Preparation H may increase blood pressure leading to headache, pounding in the neck, and creating irritation around the rectum area.
Desitin ointments are generally safer because they don't contain any vasoconstrictors. Moreover, serious allergic reactions to the drug are rare.
Talk to your doctor to learn which drug may be the best choice for you. There is a large interindividual variability in response to these medications. It is hard to predict if one drug will work better for your particular case of hemorrhoids. It is also impossible to know which side effects you may encounter ahead of time.
Are Preparation H and Desitin the Same?
No. Preparation H and Desitin are not the same. Although they both work to manage symptoms associated with hemorrhoids, they have different active ingredients that serve different purposes. Preparation H contains more active ingredients to manage a greater range of hemorrhoid symptoms, including inflammation, pain, and swelling. Desitin, on the other hand, protects the skin from further contamination.
Always Talk to Your Doctor
Preparation H and Desitin are both highly effective medications for managing hemorrhoid symptoms. They share similar characteristics with widely different results. They treat different conditions, so the medication your doctor chooses for you may depend on your diagnosis.
In any case, you should use either drug exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Get in touch with your doctor or pharmacist if you don't understand the instructions.
It is worth mentoring that there are other home remedies and drugs available to manage hemorrhoids. These include witch hazel, castor oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, and others. In most cases, we recommend drawing up a prevention protocol against hemorrhoids to minimize the symptoms. This includes a diet that consists of whole fiber foods, lots of fluid intake, and light exercise.
In rare cases, your doctor may recommend invasive surgery to remove excessively enlarged hemorrhoids. Surgery includes Hemorrhoidectomy and Stapling.