Puffy Eyes and Preparation H

“Does Preparation H really reduce bags under your eyes?” a patient asked me last week. This old-school home remedy ranks up there with classics like Vicks VapoRub® for toenail fungus (more on that one later).

But does Preparation H work? Is it safe?

Your lower eyelid is a prominent part of your face. Puffiness, redness, brown discoloration, and wrinkles are all common and are noticeable in this area. When you talk to people, their eyes are naturally drawn to your eyes. As compared to your ears, for example, eyes are an important cosmetic area, and small changes have a large impact on how young and how well you look.

Eyelid skin is delicate; it is much thinner than anywhere else on your body. Just beneath this thin skin lies wispy connective tissue and fat pads. When you don’t sleep well or wake the morning after some Kung Pao Chicken take-out, this delicate fat pad can be bloated with fluid, causing the thin skin to puff out like a water-filled baggie. When you turn on the bathroom light the next morning, you might hardly recognize the puffy-eyed face staring back at you in the mirror.

Preparation H® is, of course, a hemorrhoid cream. It contains phenylephrine, a powerful constrictor of blood vessels. It helps hemorrhoids by constricting the blood vessels, squeezing the blood out of the hemorroid, and causing them to shrink.

In theory, Preparation H can do the same thing for your puffy eyes. The phenylephrine will constrict the delicate blood vessels under your eyes, squeezing the fluid out and reducing the puffiness.

But is it safe?

Preparation H is not designed for your eyes. Getting it into your eyes could cause irritation or other problems. Using it repeatedly on your eyelids can actually cause the blood vessels to become more dilated over time as they try to counter the constricting phenylephrine.

So if you were up late celebrating the Celtics victory (or crying over the Lakers loss) and realized that you have a critical meeting (or photo shoot) this morning, then using a tiny bit of Preparation H might make you more presentable. However, using it repeatedly or getting it into your eyes can be dangerous.

It might be better to just eat a banana (potassium helps counter the excess salt) and to smile a lot, which helps squeeze that extra fluid out of your eyes naturally.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD. You might also like:

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Photo credit: Kristin Pishdadi

18 thoughts on “Puffy Eyes and Preparation H”

  1. I had something up last week about men rubbing it all over their body before going clubbing to make themselves look more ripped.

  2. Hey doc,

    How about a shirtless picture of you on the blog. You are one sexy guy.

  3. Happy Hospitalist-
    Thank you for stopping by. You have an excellent blog that I am sure many of my readers would enjoy. I haven’t tried the rubbing it all over to look more ripped, but perhaps will to satisfy Suzanne. HaHaHa.

    Thanks! But I am not sure what my patients would think of that idea. 🙂

  4. Hi Dr. B–
    Love the site. I’d like to hear what you think of the Vicks Vapo-Rub toenail fungus remedy you mentioned. I am an acupuncturist and have had numerous patients report using it with great success after seeing it mentioned in a newspaper’s advice column.


  5. Noeline Dunne says:

    Hi Dr Benabio,
    Wondering if you could advise me on a problem that I have under my eyes. I have a small cluster of skin pockets under each eye, I have visited beauty salons who do not seen to know what they are?? I have thenm a coulpe of years, and they are slowly spreading.

    Look forward to your reply

  6. Hi,

    I am just wondering by reading Preparation H can use to reduce puffiness under eyes. But, personally I think it would be more dangerous. What so you say?


  7. Nice! i`ll be stopping by from time to time 😉

  8. hi is there any other things to try to get rid of the puffy eyes my mom has them but my other 3 brothers dont. thanks william

  9. I can tell that this is not the first time at all that you mention the topic. Why have you chosen it again?

  10. How did you manage to dig this up? Two thumbs up! Any mailing list or forum that you recommend on this subject? 😉

  11. I just bought prep. h to use on my face How do I use it if I have face cream that I also use?

  12. Everyone is talking about Preparation H. You all have a computer so use it. Do your research. The Preparation H that is known to reduce puffiness is the one with Bio-Dyne which is sold only in Canada. Preparation H with Bio-Dyne use to be sold in the U.S. years ago before they reformulated the formula.

    My guess is many people were using Preparation H for puffiness under the eyes and for wrinkles which interferred with companies like Oil of Olay and others that charge expensive prices to decrease puffiness and wrinkles.

    The Preparation H with Bio-Dyne can only be purchased from Canada. The one in Canada is the original formula. You can order on line, which is what I did.

  13. If it is fugus, just go to the chemist/drug store and get anti-fungal cream,

  14. Internal Hemmorhoids says:

    I gotta agree with you for the most part, nicely put.

  15. Hey Mike,
    I discovered that I had toe nail fungus last year and my mom told me about the vicks treatment so I tried it. I put it on every morning and night and made sure to get it up underneath my toenail and as far in the toenail bed I could. It worked! After several months the yellow was gone, then I had to wait for the old flaky toenail to grow out. Now I have my pretty toenails back. Id rather do Vicks than an Rx that could damage your liver anyday and it works!

  16. This blog must be from the US as in Canada we have another ingredient that does work and is safe to use on the regular.

  17. what do you suggest for a twitching check muscle and eye lid. This only happens on my left side.

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