You may have heard it from a friend who happens to have lovely skin. Or maybe you saw it in one of Kim Kardashian’s beauty routines. The age-old claim that hemorrhoid creams reduce wrinkles keeps circulating the internet. That’s right — the cream formulated for the skin around your anus might get rid of your crow’s feet. But is there any truth to the claim?

Is there any scientific logic behind this claim?

Here’s the theory: Hemorrhoid creams, such as Preparation H and HemAway, help provide relief by shrinking the veins around the anus and tightening the skin; so, the tightening effect must work on other parts of your skin too. This idea is based on the old formulation of Preparation H that included an ingredient known as live yeast-cell derivative (LYCD). However, there have been no clinical studies on whether LYCD can actually reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face. (It has been shown to be effective in promoting wound and burn healing, but that’s not what you’re here for, right?).

LYCD hasn’t been included in hemorrhoid creams since the 1990’s. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of LYCD in hemorrhoid creams due to lack of studies supporting its safety and effectiveness in treating hemorrhoids. That’s when manufacturers of Preparation H decided to switch out the ingredients.

Today’s formulations of hemorrhoid creams sold in the United States contain the active ingredients phenylephrine or hydrocortisone. Phenylephrine is a vasoconstrictor, which shrinks the blood vessels. Some dermatologists believe that this ingredient is what helps puffy, tired eyes. Hydrocortisone, on the other hand, is a steroid, which helps relieve the itching and inflammation associated with hemorrhoids.

If you want to test the theory of using hemorrhoid creams for wrinkles, you’ll need to obtain a formulation of Preparation H that still contains LYCD, also known as Bio-Dyne.

How to use it

You can get the original formulation of Preparation H from Canada with a quick internet search. Look specifically for Preparation H with Bio-Dyne. No matter which brand, version, or product you’re trying, always do a patch test on your skin before your face. To do this, apply the cream to a small area on your arm (usually the inner wrist). Wait about 20 to 30 minutes to see if you have any negative reactions, like redness, swelling, hives, or burning sensations.

If you don’t develop any skin irritation from the skin patch, you can start by applying a small amount of the cream to wrinkles on the face (using your finger). You’ll probably want to apply the product at night before you go to bed, after gently washing your face. Spread only a thin layer and rub it gently. Always be very careful to avoid contact with your eyes. Wash your hands when you’re done.

You can also apply it during the day, but the cream may make your face look shiny or greasy.

As with most wrinkle creams, you’ll probably have to apply it consistently and over a few weeks or months before you notice any results. Since there are no studies showing the effectiveness of hemorrhoid creams on wrinkles, you may never see a difference.

Possible side effects

The side effects depend on what type of hemorrhoid cream you’re using. The phenylephrine that is in current formulations of hemorrhoid creams may temporarily make the area around the eyes appear tighter. But, prolonged use might result in skin that’s:

  • thinner
  • more fragile
  • red and swollen

Hemorrhoid creams that contain hydrocortisone can actually worsen some skin problems of the face, including impetigo, rosacea, and acne.

The Mayo Clinic warns that topical hydrocortisone can lead to thinning of the skin and easy bruising, especially when applied to the face.

Though rare, hydrocortisone can get through the skin into the bloodstream to cause side effects in other parts of your body. Hydrocortisone is a steroid, and over time it can affect your adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are responsible for your body’s response to stress.

Currently, there’s no research that shows that prolonged use of LYCD causes any negative side effects.

The bottom line

There’s not much evidence suggesting that hemorrhoid creams can help reduce your wrinkles. Most claims are anecdotal and only pertain to formulations containing the banned substance LYCD. It’s probably a better idea to avoid using hemorrhoid creams, especially for an extended period of time. They might make your skin thinner, leaving it more susceptible to sun damage and aging.

Instead, practice time-tested healthy habits like drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen, and getting enough sleep to prevent wrinkles. For wrinkles that have already appeared, try scientifically backed at-home treatments like dermarolling, microneedling, and mild chemical peels.

Ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid have also been proven to help with wrinkles. If you’re unsure where to start, a dermatologist or skin care specialist can recommend an anti-aging skin care routine or facial treatments like microdermabrasion and chemical peels.