What is hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Hydrocortisone is a natural corticosteroid produced by the adrenal glands that are located adjacent to the kidneys. Corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory properties and are used in a wide variety of inflammatory conditions such as:

There are numerous preparations of corticosteroids including oral tablets, capsules, liquids, topical creams and gels, inhalers and eye drops, as well as injectable and intravenous solutions. Hydrocortisone that is used for rectal conditions is discussed in this article. The FDA approved hydrocortisone in December 1952.

What brand names are available for hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment?

Cortifoam, Anusol-HC, Anucort-HC, Proctocort, Colocort

Is hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment?


What are the uses for hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment?

Hydrocortisone is used rectally for the treatment of ulcerative proctitis, inflamed hemorrhoids, and anal itching, burning, and inflammation caused by several conditions that affect the anal area.

What are the side effects of hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment?

Common side effects of hydrocortisone when applied to the rectum include:

Other side effects include:

  • folliculitis,
  • secondary infections, and
  • lightening of skin color (hypopigmentation)

What is the dosage for hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment?

  • For proctitis the usual dosage is one suppository applied in the morning and night time.
  • Severe cases may require application 3 times daily or 2 suppositories twice daily.
  • One enema is applied at bedtime for 21 days or until symptoms resolve.
  • The dosing for foam is one applicator once daily or every 12 hours for 2-3 weeks, then every other day if necessary.

Which drugs or supplements interact with hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment?

: The risk of drug interactions is low when hydrocortisone is administered rectally.

Is hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

: Hydrocortisone has not been adequately evaluated during pregnancy.

Hydrocortisone taken orally can appear in breast milk, and can have adverse effects on the baby. It is not known whether hydrocortisone administered rectally is absorbed in sufficient amounts to appear in breast milk.

What else should I know about hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment?

What preparations of hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment are available?

Enema: 100 mg/60 ml; Foam: 10% (15 g); Suppository: 25 and 30 mg

How should I keep hydrocortisone-rectal cream, ointment stored?

Hydrocortisone should be store at room temperature, 20 C to 25 C (68 F to 77 F), in a sealed container.

From WebMD Logo

Healthy Resources
Featured Centers
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 12/17/2018


Medically reviewed by Dr. John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine


FDA Prescribing Information.