Hydrocortisone acetate

Sounds like 'HYE-droe-KOR-ti-sone'

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

Type of medicine

Also called

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

What is hydrocortisone enema?

Hydrocortisone 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 hydrocortisone as a foam directly into the lower bowel (lower colon and rectum). In this way, hydrocortisone may reduce symptoms such as pain and diarrhoea.

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


The usual dose of hydrocortisone 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 hydrocortisone 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 hydrocortisone enema

Try using hydrocortisone enema at the same times each day.

It is best to have a bowel motion before using hydrocortisone enema rather than after. If you have a bowel motion soon after using hydrocortisone enema, you may lose all the benefit of the medication.  

Avoid using hydrocortisone enema just before having a bath, shower or going swimming.

Keep using hydrocortisone 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.

Special instructions

To get the most benefit from the hydrocortisone enema, it is important to use the correct technique when using it. Your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse will explain how to use your hydrocortisone enema — the following steps are a guide.

To prepare 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.

To administer 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 clean thoroughly with warm water.

More detailed instructions are available in the consumer medication information

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, hydrocortisone enema can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects

What should I do?

  • Irritation, burning and redness around the anus
  • These are quite common when you first start using hydrocortisone enema, 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 hydrocortisone. 
Colifoam Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Last reviewed: 23 Mar 2016