tube of Preparation H

No one likes wrinkles, but could Preparation H work as well as pricey skin creams?

Q. I have a friend who says that Preparation H can smooth wrinkles on your face. She has lovely skin, but I am dubious. Could a hemorrhoid product really do any good against wrinkles, or is this an urban legend?

A. Preparation H has a reputation for unique uses beyond the obvious one. For decades people told us that they used this ointment on bed sores, surgical scars (to reduce itching and inflammation), burns, cracked dry finger tips as well as wrinkles. One woman told us that Preparation H rescued her plum tree after she scraped the bark with her lawn mower.

All of these unorthodox uses were with the original Preparation H formulation, which included live yeast cell derivative (LYCD) in addition to shark liver oil. But the FDA made the manufacturer remove the LYCD because the studies supporting its effectiveness for hemorrhoids did not convince the agency it worked. We think that might have been short-sighted.

We suspect the LYCD, also known as BioDyne, may have been responsible in part for the positive results people reported. Scientific studies show this ingredient can hasten wound healing.

A study published in the Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation tested an extract of LYCD in a diabetic mouse model. These animals (like their human counterparts) have a hard time healing after wounds. The mice receiving the topical LYCD extract experienced 100% wound closure 24 days after their wounds. Less than one-third of the mice receiving the placebo treatment had wound closure within that time.

Elsewhere in the world, the formulation of Preparation H still contains LYCD. If you would like to try it, you can get some from Canada via the Internet. Search for Preparation H with BioDyne.

Here are some Preparation H comments from visitors to this website:

Guy shares his wife’s experience:

“My wife is having a terrible problem with the skin on her fingers splitting easily. Nothing worked until we tried an old tube of Preparation H that had not been thrown away. It contained the LYCD (live yeast cell derivative) you mentioned. This stuff is definitely helping. Trouble is that we are running out. Our pharmacist says he can’t get any more Preparation H with the original formula and cannot make it for us. I guess we will have to shop for it via Canada.”

Tom P. offers this unique historical perspective:

“I am past 80 years old. About 40-50 years ago, at Walgreens, they had an ointment named, ‘Sperty BioDyne ointment‘ and it had shark liver oil and LYCD ingredients in it. We started using it for cuts and abrasions and found that it healed them real fast and with very little scarring. We were really impressed with it.

“Then, it became unavailable, and we found that the old Preparation H had the same ingredients and started to use that. The old Sperty BioDyne Co. of Cincinnati went out of business.

“Then the dang FDA got to meddling in the affair and the Prep-H formula was forced to change the ingredients. The company removed the LYCD from it. Now after considerable searching I just today received five 75 gram tubes of Prep-H from a Canadian drug firm at $21.00 U.S. per tube plus S/H. The last tube of Prep-H that I bought in the USA cost me $2.50 at Dollar general Stores. Thanks to FDA meddling that’s quite a jump in price.”

Rebecca adds this caveat:

“I have spoken to several people over the years who use Prep H with BioDyne and swear by it for wrinkles and eye puffiness.

“Even though people say you can find it via online Canadian pharmacies you have to search the actual ingredients. If you read the fine print you discover that LYCD is not always there.”

Mary is a believer:

“I have used the old-fashioned Preparation H formula with LYCD as a moisturizer under my makeup. I am convinced that it improves my skin texture and smoothes out the wrinkles.”

We would love to learn about your experience with Preparation H. If you have used the original formula did it help? Comment below.

You can learn about other ways to deal with wrinkles and dry skin in our Guide to Skin Care & Treatment. We are especially fond of Udderly Smooth Extra Care Cream with Urea (a sponsor of our radio show). There is growing evidence (The Journal of Investigative Dermatology) that the urea found in this affordable skin cream is a magnificent skin protector. Here is a link to the handy 2 oz tube that can be kept in the car, nightstand on pocketbook. At this time of year a skin cream with urea is almost a necessity given the cold dry air that sucks moisture out of skin and makes it so vulnerable.

Revised January 21, 2016

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  1. Barbara
    De Bary, FL

    Just found the Canadian version on ebay. The price is very reasonable, about $15.00 with free shipping. Do not order from a Dr. Josed; that order was returned since it expired 15 months ago. Have only used it a couple of days so I’m anxious to see if it works!

  2. Judy
    De Bary, FL

    Just found the Canadian version on ebay. The price is very reasonable, about $15.00 with free shipping. Do not order from a Dr. Josed; that order was returned since it expired 15 months ago. Have only used it a couple of days so I’m anxious to see if it works!

  3. Anne
    Scottsbluff, NE

    Unfortunately I did not do the research for Prep H for wrinkles . I only used the advise of a friend to buy Prep H for wrinkles. I bought Prep H, put a small amount on my cheek wrinkles and the next morning my face was burning , red and swollen. I used the new Prep H with the chemical Phenylephrine . I have put an ice pack on my face and cannot find anything that will take the swelling down and stop the burning. Will head for the Dr tomorrow.

  4. Christee
    elverta, ca

    Hello, I for one would love to try the original Preparation H cream. My ex-mother in law is a very beautiful woman so I asked how she was able to look so young? Much to my surprise, she told me about the Preparation H routine and boy did I look younger. At that time, I was in my mid to late thirties, drinking lots of water and very active. However, I’m not like anymore and have become quite lazy decided to give it a try again. Not getting quite the same results. Go figure but reading this article and all the lovely remarks, I feel much better if I find anything out about where to get the original ingredients, I will share my findings.

    Take care and have a great day!

    P.S. This is my first time adding a comment to anything online so please forgive any mishaps that I might have made.

    Thanks again!

  5. linda

    Preparation H has just arrived in the mail today from Canada, yes the one with live yeast etc. Am going to try it, let you know.

  6. Carla

    Yes, I found an old tube of Prep H in my bathroom cabinet underneath the sink!! I bought this in Canada and must be outdated for a very long time.
    I will try it and let you know.
    have a great weekend.

  7. Cathie

    I like Cerave for wrinkle control. The ceramides in it seem to make a difference, and it is reasonably priced. I buy the 16-0z tub moisturizer at my local pharmacy. Another reason I like Cerave is that it is not greasy.

  8. Robin

    I used preparation H years ago for crackes on finger tips in winter, as did my husband. All of a sudden it stopped working.
    This explains the problem. I thought they had done away with the shark oil. I can’t find anything now that works as well.

    • James

      You can try O’Keeffe’s Working Hands for splitting skin on your finger tips. It worked wonders for me!

  9. Sam

    A word of caution: hemorrhoid creams have been know to contain steroids. It’s worth checking on the label.

  10. Mary

    A Canadian friend brought me some Prep H. The tube is still sitting beside my bed.
    After reading here, I may actually open it and use it.

    Wonder if it would help with “liver spots” on my face?

  11. BarbP

    Speaking of other uses for medical creams, out of desperation I used Monistat on fire ant bites. Given the sensitive area this cream is designed for, I thought it worth a try. The cream worked instantly and the bites had a chance to heal without me scratching the daylights out of them. Works great for Wasp stings and other insect bites.

  12. alxzba

    without addressing the subject of this P Pharm post, I find it interesting that when the FDA removes a product/ingredient that someone in the public, without research, thinks helpful, the FDA is meddling. However when the Agency discovers and removes a product proven harmful, little is said.

    • Ebm

      Not correct, Mr. Alx….., the PP does plenty to get harmful
      substances/in generics, for example to the attention of the FDA,
      which sometimes takes years before they act and many people
      were suffering. They also praise where it is due when the FDA
      does something right to correct problems with drugs.

  13. Jean

    40 years ago a co-worker came to into work with her new discovery for cold sore relief. She had accidently grabbed the wrong tube and applied Prep H to her lower lip. When she couldn’t find her cold sore ointment she figured what the heck, the tube stated “relieves itch and reduces swelling”. She could not believe how much relief she felt.
    Since then I have been using it and she was right, best thing for cold sores but you must catch them when your first feel them coming on. As soon as you feel the area starting to itch, apply a little Prep-H. Only do this for the first day and then let it dry out. You won’t even know you have a cold sore unless you look in the mirror. Using the Prep-H, I find that they don’t get as big and are quicker to disappear. I have recommended this to others and they have been pleased with the results. I live in Canada so not a problem acquiring it.

  14. Bonnie

    I have usually used the store brand of Prep H. I can tell you what it WILL do! Every kitchen should keep a tube of this in a drawer.
    Once I accidentally poured extremely hot water over my right hand.
    Doing what I had read, I grabbed the hemorrhoid cream and covered my hand in it. At first I thought that I may end up in the ER but within 15-20 minutes, all of the red had disappeared and the burn was completely gone. This past week, I removed a lid from a pan on the stove and the steam burned one of my fingers. I covered it in this cream once again and within a few minutes, the sting, burning and redness had gone away completely. I have also used this product under my eyes for puffiness and it has taken care of this problem too. So I have had success with the generic brand so just wanted to share with others.

  15. Melissa

    Which Preparation H should I get? There are so many different kinds. The one pictured?

  16. jayne

    Just wondered does hemeroid cream help wrinkles

  17. kathy castillo
    United States

    would like to know more about the cream

    • Cindy
      United States

      You didn’t answer the question in the title.

  18. Cyndi

    Ok, I was staying at my mother in laws. And had a giant cystic acne breakout on my face with three Giant lumps, so swollen they were leaching fluid from the swelling, all I could find was some old hemroid cream. Thinking something is better than nothing, applied it generously and went to bed, to my amazement in the morning the lumps were seriously deflated, a couple of more applications and they were all but gone?..

  19. Kristi

    Make up artistry is my hobby. I always use a mixture of Prep H, Monistat Anti-chaffing cream (not antifungul), caffeinated instant coffee and a tiny hint of toothpaste as part of my skin regime. I then wash with Noxema and reapply the monistat as a make up primer alone. People say I look 18! I love it :D

    • Carolyn

      The prep H, monistat, anti chaffing cream and instant coffee with toothpaste, how much of each? Is it mixed together? Do you apply then wait 20 mins then wash ? I will have to look up what each product does for the face to make me feel good about what it is doing and if I notice any difference, don’t understand about the monistat as a makeup primer, I don’t wear make up, because I do not want to clog my pores, once in a blue moon I use a cream for covering dark circles and face power, need to find a makeup that’s all natural, so I don’t look too tired. Thanks

  20. blanca

    I want to know if it does work for wrinkles and lines and want to know if in the long run messes up your face.

    • Carolyn

      That’s a good question, don’t want to clog pores and put toxins on my skin, because it gets absorbed thru the skin into the blood stream. I will have to look it up, if you know the answer let me know, thanks.

  21. RW

    Years ago while camping, one of the children got sunburned. She was so uncomfortable and miserable she couldn’t sleep. Aside from a small tube of First Aid cream, the only thing we had with us was a tube of Preparation H. In desperation we decided to give it a try and… sure enough! It took the heat out of the burn and eased the pain and swelling!!! Wasn’t long and she was able to go to sleep. Who’d of thought?

  22. candice

    It has worked very well for my seborrheic dermatitis especially on my face and neck…the tube I found at my parents house was dated 10/04.

  23. chris

    Oh my gosh!!! I had accidentally been using prep h on my sergical incision and was freaking out when I found out what is was. I googled it for information and found that people have been using it for years for incisions. Actually I think it helped with healing, itching and cooled it down.

  24. Josephine

    I don’t really know if that is very effective for my skin. I am afraid to use it so I still need to consult my doctor about it. However, I am hoping that this cream will be a big help for others.

  25. Dolores

    I used the old Prep H to shrink boils on my butt. My doctor was skeptical, but he humored me and said if I thought it worked go ahead. It cleared them up without lancing them.
    Maybe we need to bombard the FDA and tell them to OK the ingredients that they had removed as not being useful.

  26. PG

    About 15 years ago, I was bitten by a fire ant at my mothers house. It was very painful. I looked for something to put on it and saw a tube of Prep H. I slapped it on the bite and the pain went away instantly. What a relief!
    I don’t know if it was the old Prep H or the new, but I would use it again if bitten.

  27. DS

    I’d like to read all the comments. Sounds intriguing. Is it terribly expensive if you happen to go to Canada as a tourist? I will look for it if I ever travel there. Foreign pharmacies and grocery stores are always fun to shop.

  28. Pattic

    This is very interesting. I’d like to try the Prep H with LYCD (BioDyne) for my facial wrinkles. I just did a search on google and came up with a place to buy it but much too high $$ and looking at where it comes from Canada, seems to be the stuff you are talking about BUT fulfilled by Amazon, stored in their warehouses. Really? Really? Trying to do my Seinfield impression. :-) Another seller is importing it from Canada but again is much too high. I’ll bet you it’s on Ebay too.
    I do remember a episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Marie told Debra to put it under her eyes for the puffiness or wrinkles and she did.
    Thanks I love reading the Peoples Pharmacy, always informative.

  29. Susan S.

    I have not used the “old formula” of Preparation H for myself; however, I have used it on my horses and always included it in my first-aid supplies at the barn.
    My mare once snagged her neck badly on a small-diameter cedar-tree limb that was incompletely cut and sticking out on a fence post. It was quite deep. After I filled the wound completely with the Prep. H just a few times, it healed completely, leaving no indication of the wound — no scar or anything.
    I was disappointed to read years ago about the formulation being changed to eliminate the shark liver oil and the LYCD. The “new” product did not heal as the other.
    Thank you for sharing how to get the original formulation! I plan to order some more immediately!

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