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Using Rectal Medicines succesfully

December 6, 2019

Rectal/Anal Medicines and how best to apply them

What comes to mind when you hear ‘rectal medicines’ ?

Enemas, right?

Enemas are a common way for introducing liquid medicine to the body through the anus and rectum for treating conditions like constipation.

But there are other forms for applying drugs to the the rectum including capsules or suppositories, creams or ointments.

Applying a rectal suppository is a way of getting medicines into the rectum through the anus.

Thus, it is a very effective way of delivering medicine in some scenarios.

Some conditions for using rectal medicines

The intent for using rectal medicines is usually to bypass the mouth and stomach.

In other cases, having the drug located around the anus and rectum gives the maximum effect.

This may be necessary in instances where an individual cannot swallow; or they cannot keep medicines down via the mouth.

  • Examples of these are:
    • rectal paracetamol used for pain or treating a fever
    • rectal diazepam used in stopping seizures

However, it may also be that you need a medicine whose effect acts locally inside the anus/rectum.

  • Examples here are:
    • drugs used to treat Constipation.
      • These can range from enemas – liquid preparations applied into the anus and meant to work in the local area; capsules or suppositories which become liquid after being inserted within the anus.
    • Drugs used to treat Haemorrhoids/piles.
    • They are commonly applied directly to the piles around the anus or just inside the anus where they are most effective.

How you can apply rectal medicines at home.

Sometimes, you may need to apply these medicines yourself.

Most commonly it will be for treating piles, or very bad constipation.

  • Application Guides:
    • Always follow the prescribed dosing directions
    • Remember that though these medicines are applied through the bottom/anus, thanks to having very rich blood vessels around the area, the drug can travel from the anus into other parts of the body via the blood.
  • Cream/Ointment:
    • Thoroughly clean the affected area, dry and apply the cream.
  • Suppository:
    • Clean your hands and wear disposable gloves.
    • You should lie on your side to insert the suppository; draw up your top leg to allow easier access to your anus if needed.
    • The suppository should be moistened with a little water, then gently inserted to the anus as far as your finger can go.
    • Ideally, try to stay in the same position for 10-15 minutes to allow the suppository work in the local area.
  • Microenema:
    • These often come as a small tube with a little nozzle which is meant for insertion to the anus.
    • They are meant for single use only
    • The enema usually works within 5 to 15 minutes, so make sure you are near a toilet before using it. Next,
      • Lie down on your side with your knees drawn up towards your tummy or, if you prefer, sit on the toilet.
      • Pull or twist the cap off the tube.
      • If you want to lubricate the nozzle before inserting it, squeeze a drop of liquid out onto the nozzle.
      • Insert the full length of the nozzle into your back passage.
      • Next, gently squeeze the tube until it is empty.
      • Keep squeezing the tube as you pull the nozzle out of your back passage. This is to stop the medicine being drawn back into the tube.
      • Wait for the laxative to work (5-15 minutes).

So, that’s a little about how and why we use rectal examinations.

Send us a message if you’d like to know more here.

Did you find this useful? Reply with a comment below if so.

More Reading:

Warning! Medicines that could affect Your Safety when Driving

Edited By AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly through

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