- Preparation H is a medication used to treat hemorrhoid symptoms.
- Preparation H products are formulated with phenylephrine or hydrocortisone to treat the swelling, itching and pain associated with hemorrhoids.
- This medication has been known to be used off-label for treating puffy eyes and by bodybuilders looking to define their muscles.
Preparation H is touted as an easy home remedy for relieving puffy eyes, as well as other skin concerns including wrinkles and dark circles. However, Preparation H is not formulated to treat puffy eyes and misuse can result in permanent damage to the eyes.
As an alternative treatment for puffy eyes, you can safely use cold compresses, cucumber slices or green tea as a DIY home remedy.
What is Preparation H?
Preparation H is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication formulated to treat hemorrhoids. It is available in a variety of formats including creams, ointments, gels and wipes. The two active ingredients are phenylephrine or hydrocortisone.
Hemorrhoids are a result of swollen blood vessels and can cause great discomfort due to swelling, irritation, itchiness, and pain in the area. Phenylephrine, a vasoconstrictor, shrinks blood vessels; hydrocortisone, a steroid, reduces swelling. Both ingredients are effective in temporarily relieving hemorrhoid symptoms.
Can Preparation H Treat Puffy Eyes?
No, Preparation H cannot be used to treat puffy eyes.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
Preparation H is not approved for use other than as prescribed. This medication’s strong formula can cause facial skin to become irritated, inflamed and overly dry. It may also cause severe irritation if it comes into direct contact with the eye.
Jeanine B. Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, strongly advises against the application of Preparation H to the eye area on the basis of “the obvious risks of irritation, high potency and the potential for it to get into the eyes. There are plenty of other products on the market that are much better suited for the eye area, with its thinner skin and proximity to the eye itself.”
Additional risks are posed by Preparation H’s active ingredients. Phenylephrine can cause allergic conjunctivitis, while other active ingredients such as pramoxine, are also not suitable for use in the eye area. Should the product come into contact with the eyes, there is a risk of vision loss.
In addition, long-term use of topical steroids—such as hydrocortisone—has been shown to cause permanent damage to the skin, including discoloration, skin atrophy or thinning.
Alternatives to Preparation H for Puffy Eyes
There are several home remedies for puffy eyes which can be effective in reducing puffy eyes and dark undereye circles. They are easily made with just a few ingredients and are very safe.
Cold compresses cool the skin to reduce blood flow and the accompanying swelling and puffiness. Place a cold washcloth over the eye area to help soothe irritation and reduce inflammation.
- Soak a washcloth in cold water
- Lightly wring out excess moisture
- Fold and gently press the washcloth around the eye area
Cucumber has been demonstrated to effectively reduce swelling due to its many healing properties. They have vitamin K to help reduce the appearance of dark circles, and lignans, or polyphenols which aid in reducing inflammation. Cucumbers boost hydration and brighten skin.
For extra benefits, use chilled cucumber as a form of cold compression therapy.
- Cut two thick slices from a refrigerated cucumber
- Lie down and place one slice over each eye for 15 minutes
Green tea bags
Green tea is rich in anti-inflammatory polyphenols. It is effective in constricting dilated blood vessels, which may help to reduce the appearance of puffy eyes.
Green tea can also provide unique benefits in the treatment of puffy eyes caused by the overgrowth of vasculature and capillaries. Dr. Downie explains, “Green tea has powerful antiangiogenic properties, meaning it can decrease the potential formation of new blood vessels, which in turn, can reduce the likelihood of puffiness as well as blue-red darkening under the eyes.”
Once again, for added benefits use chilled tea bags as they can double as a cold compress.
- Steep two green tea bags and chill for 10 minutes
- Squeeze excess moisture from both tea bags
- Lie down and place one bag over each eye for 15 minutes
Turmeric contains the active compound curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric supplements are a common treatment for reducing inflammation in the body, and topically applied turmeric is a popular at-home treatment for puffy eyes.
“I recommend turmeric to patients with any inflammatory condition,” says Dr. Downie, “and I would certainly make that suggestion to my patient looking for a natural product that may help with puffy eyes.”
Turmeric can be combined to form a paste and applied to the under-eye area.
- Blend 1 tsp of turmeric powder with 1 tsp of water in a small bowl to form a paste
- Apply the mixture to your under-eye area with a clean brush
- Wait 10 minutes; gently wipe off with a warm, wet cloth
Turmeric can sometimes stain the skin with a yellow color when applied topically. If you notice any staining, gently massage the treatment area with warm coconut or vegetable oil, then wash away the residue with warm water and soap.
Preparation H cannot and should not be used to relieve puffy eyes, since its active ingredients—phenylephrine and hydrocortisone—are both unsafe for use around the eyes.
Instead, cold compresses, cucumber slices and green tea bags are safe, natural alternatives that can reduce dark circles and relieve puffy eyes.
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