Saturday, August 1, 2020

Hemorrhoid cream for puffy eyes: Does it really work? One experience—MINE!

I’m sure many of you have heard about a “miracle” treatment for puffiness around the eyes: Preparation H®, the hemorrhoid cream. I’ve read about it and heard about it for years, and I’m frequently asked if it works, so I had to find out for myself what the truth is.

I went to the store and looked at all the different ointments and creams meant to shrink the pain and itching of hemorrhoids. There are a few brands available, Preparation H being the most well-known. Like many medications, there are generic brands that have virtually identical ingredients for less money. In order to do a “controlled” study, I purchased the Preparation H brand, but any of them would have worked the same I’m sure.

The ingredients listed in the cream as “active” are:
  • glycerin (12%)
  • petrolatum (18%)
  • phenylephrine HCI (0.25%)
  • shark liver oil (3.0%)
Glycerin is one of the main components of most creams due to its water-binding abilities. It is a humectant and therefore attracts moisture (water) to itself. How this is going to help with puffiness I can’t imagine. Petrolatum, which is just Vaseline or petroleum jelly, is another ingredient that helps to make the cream smooth and spreadable. How this particular ingredient helps with puffiness is also a mystery to me. If you were to put Vaseline around your eyes, it would probably cause puffiness due to its ability to retain moisture. I also wonder what the active component is in this very inert (inactive) substance. Petrolatum is also going to clog your pores.

I could not find phenylephrine HCI, but found phenylephrine HCL in my ingredient lists book. Also known as hydrochloride, it is used in some nasal decongestants to contract blood vessels or in medications to take the red out of the eyes. This would be consistent with a cream meant to shrink tissue, in this case, hemorrhoids. Shark liver oil is loaded with vitamin A and is used to lubricate many creams and lotions. Out of all these “active” ingredients, the only one that seems to be acting on reducing inflammation is phenylephrine HCI. The inactive ingredients listed on the package are mostly fillers, lanolins, and preservatives; they are nothing special, and certainly nothing harmful.

Like many of you, I wake up in the morning with moderate puffiness under my eyes. Throughout the day, the puffiness naturally diminishes, if only due to gravity and the fluids draining from the eye area. I used the hemorrhoid cream under only one eye so I could see if there was a difference between my two undereyes. This, by the way, is an important way to find out if something is working. If you use it on both sides, how can you tell, unless it is dramatic, how well something is working?

After using Preparation H (under one eye) for two full weeks, I can honestly and unequivocally say that this product didn’t do a thing for my undereye puffiness. I just didn’t see any appreciable difference. I would even ask those people I saw in that time frame, and they couldn’t see a measurable difference between my two eyes. 

I went back to the store and purchased the ointment and the gel, thinking maybe I had used the wrong form of Preparation H. Neither of these made any difference either, further cementing my belief that Preparation H should be used as it was originally intended and not for puffy eyes.

Using a hemorrhoid cream on your face may not leave you free from side effects. Redness, sensitivity, along with acne are possible reactions. Some of the hemorrhoid creams contain hydrocortisone, a steroid, and in rare cases it can be absorbed through the skin and get into your bloodstream, which overtime can cause stress on your adrenal glands. To all of that I say: Why use it?!

Perhaps Preparation H does work wonders in a situation like on a model in a runway show or for a makeup artist working on a famous person (like Kim Kardashian’s makeup person who swears by using this cream—click here for an article about just that). But my experience using it didn’t prove to be as beneficial. Try it for yourself. See if using a hemorrhoid cream around your eye area helps to reduce puffiness you may experience. Personally I’ll stick to eye treatment creams meant to help puffiness—around the eyes.

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