- 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 try 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.
This medication is not formulated to be used on the face or for the purpose of relieving puffy eyes or dark circles. It is intended to be used only as a hemorrhoid treatment.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
Preparation H is not approved for use other than as prescribed. There are several reasons for this.
Facial skin can become irritated, inflamed and overly dry due to the medication’s strong formulation.
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.
All these treatments rely on cold compression therapy, which involves cooling the skin to reduce blood flow and the accompanying swelling and puffiness. Cucumber and green tea provide added benefits.
Place a cold compress over puffy eyes to 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 a 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 also an anti-inflammatory as it contains polyphenols. Green tea is effective in constricting blood vessels and reduce puffy 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.
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.