Witch Hazel

What is Witch Hazel

Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is a botanical astringent agent commonly found in dermatological preparations and anorectal preparations.

Astringent agents are commonly used to cosmetically freshen the skin, to cleanse an irritated area, and for personal hygiene. Witch hazel has long been an adjunct to perineal care following rectal or vaginal surgery or childbirth to help provide topical relief to inflamed tissues, including hemorrhoids.

Pads or wipes containing witch hazel are also sometimes used for cleansing during diaper changes.

Products containing the agent are available without a prescription (OTC) in the U.S.

Indications & Dosage

  • hemorrhoids
  • insect bites or stings
  • skin abrasion

For the temporary relief of external itching (pruritus), burning, and irritation associated with hemorrhoids or for use to cleanse or for hygienic care to provide soothing relief of topical irritation in the perineal area

Side Effects

  • rash
  • skin irritation
  • xerosis

Most patients do not report any side effects from use of witch hazel; it is well tolerated topically. Witch hazel may rarely cause stinging on application (due to alcohol content of selected product) or skin irritation (e.g., drying of the skin or xerosis).

Allergic reactions are rare, but patients should report any unusual skin rash (unspecified), worsening of the treated condition, or other unusual symptoms.

Monitoring Parameters

  • laboratory monitoring not necessary

Contraindications

  • bleeding
  • breast-feeding
  • children
  • infants
  • neonates
  • pregnancy

Interactions

There are no drug interactions associated with Witch Hazel products.