Hydrocortisone acetate (foam enema)

Easy-to-read medicine information about Colifoam enema– what it is, how to use Colifoam enema safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine

Also called

  • Belongs to a group of medicines called corticosteroids
  • Foam enema
  • Colifoam®

What is Colifoam enema?

Colifoam enema is used to treat ulcerative colitis. It is a corticosteroid hormone that works by calming the body's immune system and reducing inflammation. The enema is inserted into the rectum (back passage) and delivers the steroid hydrocortisone as a foam directly into the lower bowel (lower colon and rectum). In this way, hydrocortisone helps to reduce symptoms such as pain and diarrhoea.

It is useful during flare-ups, where there is a sudden worsening of your symptoms.

Dose

  • The usual dose of Colifoam enema is 1 enema inserted into the rectum 1 or 2 times a day, for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Your doctor will then reduce your dose to once daily or every alternate days, before stopping.
  • Always use your Colifoam enema exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to use, how often to use it, and any special instructions.

How to use Colifoam

Timing

  • Try using Colifoam at the same times each day.
  • It is best to have a bowel motion before using Colifoam rather than after. If you have a bowel motion soon after using Colifoam, you may lose all the benefit of the medication.
  • Avoid using Colifoam just before having a bath, shower or going swimming.

Keep using Colifoam enema. It usually takes 5 to 7 days to notice an improvement in your symptoms.

If you forget your dose now and again, it is not necessary to make up for the dose you missed. Just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.

Preparing the enema

  • Shake the container vigorously for 60 seconds before use, to create the foam.
  • Hold container upright and insert into opening of the tip of the applicator.
  • Be sure the applicator plunger is drawn all the way out. The container must be held upright to obtain proper flow of the medication.
  • To fill, press down gently on the container cap. When the foam reaches the fill line of the applicator, it is ready for use.

Using the enema

  • Remove the applicator from the aerosol container. The aerosol container should never be inserted directly into the anus.
  • Allow some foam to remain on the applicator tip. Hold the applicator by the barrel and gently insert the tip into anus. With applicator in place, push the plunger to expel the foam, then withdraw the applicator.
  • Clean the applicator parts by pulling apart and washing thoroughly with warm water.

More detailed instructions are available in the consumer medication information

Side effects

Like all medicines, Colifoam can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Most side effects are related to the dose you are taking and how long you are using Colifoam for. Read more about taking steroids long-term.

Side effects

What should I do?

  • Irritation, burning and redness around the anus
  • These are quite common when you first start using Colifoam, and usually goes away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, bad dreams
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Learn more

The following link provides further information on Colifoam. 
Colifoam Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet

References

  1. Hydrocortisone acetate New Zealand Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Last reviewed: 21 Feb 2020