Puffy Eyes: Does Hemorrhoid Cream Work?

Some of you may have read this title and balked. But you'd be amazed at how often my patients ask me this very question! It's a home remedy that's been circulating for years: Just as hemorrhoid creams can shrink blood vessels in the delicate area they're designed to treat, the theory is that they can constrict inflamed vessels under the eyes, too.

So is this truth or beauty myth? Well, there is actually some truth here: Hemorrhoid cream can help shrink blood vessels around the eyes to temporarily decreasing swelling and redness (as a result of crying or fatigue, for example).

But use extreme caution! This is, of course, an "off-label" use for these products - meaning that they are absolutely not tested or approved for under-eye use. The risk of serious problems is minimal when you apply these creams to a small surface area. (When hemorrhoid creams are applied to a large area, however, the danger of risky complications like high blood pressure is much greater - and that's just what some bodybuilders and club-goers have been doing in an attempt to appear lean. Not a good idea!)

You are, though, putting yourself at risk for temporary but annoying allergic reactions: A friend of mine tried hemorrhoid cream under her eyes shortly before her wedding and got a terrible rash! It took steroid pills to get rid of the redness and irritation (and put quite a damper on the wedding prep, as you might imagine). So if you are curious about this trick, try it a week or so before a big event to make sure you're not allergic to hemorrhoid cream's active ingredients.

In my experience, though, putting hemorrhoid creams near the eyes just isn't worth the risk of allergic reaction - particularly because there are highly effective alternatives. Caffeinated tea bags on the eyes, or dabbing Afrin on with a cotton ball for example, also constricts blood vessels with no risk of a visit to the dermatologist for steroids!) If your puffy eyes are chronic (and not just the result of crying, for example), cutting back on salt, drinking more water, exercising frequently with deep breathing and sleeping with your head elevated can also help enormously.

Wishing you great skin!

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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, "The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site, SkinTypeSolutions.com

All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.

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