What Does Preparation H Do?

Reviewed on 4/1/2021

Preparation H
Preparation H is a popular topical (applied over the inflamed area) treatment for hemorrhoids, both external and internal.

Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or the lower part of the rectum (the terminal part of the large bowel). Hemorrhoids are common in both males and females. It is estimated that 1 in 20 Americans have hemorrhoids. They occur more commonly with age. Around 50% of the Americans who are older than 50 years are affected.

Hemorrhoids may be felt as tiny lumps in and around the anus. They may often get better on their own within a few days, but some may need medications and even surgery to go away. Hemorrhoids are of two main types:

  • External hemorrhoids: They form under the skin around the anus.
  • Internal hemorrhoids: They form in the lining of the anus and lower rectum.

Despite being one of the most uncomfortable and often embarrassing health conditions, hemorrhoids can generally be treated and managed easily by a doctor. Various options are available, both medical and surgical, for the treatment of hemorrhoids, such as preparation H.

What is preparation H?

Preparation H is a popular topical (applied over the inflamed area) treatment for hemorrhoids, both external and internal.

It also contains several inactive ingredients, such as aloe vera leaf extract, anhydrous citric acid, glyceryl monostearate, methylparaben, mineral oil, purified water, sodium benzoate, stearyl alcohol, vitamin E acetate, and xanthan gum.

What does preparation H do?

Preparation H has several constituents that help relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids, such as pain, itching, and bleeding. Preparation H does the following things:

  • Provides temporary relief from pain, swelling, and burning
  • Causes the hemorrhoids to temporarily shrink
  • Prevents further discomfort by forming a protective coating over the area
  • Provides relief from itching and discomfort
  • Makes bowel movements less painful


Everyone has hemorrhoids. See Answer

How do you use preparation H?

Preparation H is an over the counter product available at most pharmacies. Do not use this product without consulting your physician if:

For using preparation H:

  • Clean the affected area gently using a cleansing wipe.
  • Pat dry the area using a soft cloth or tissue.
  • Open the tube and apply the contents generously in the lower portion of the anus.
  • You may apply the ointment up to four times a day, especially at night, in the morning, or following a bowel movement that may exacerbate hemorrhoid symptoms.
  • For applying in the lower anal canal, remove the cover from dispensing cap and attach the dispensing cap to the tube.
  • Lubricate the dispensing cap well and gently insert it partly into the anus.
  • Clean the cap well after each use and replace the cover.

Although generally considered safe, preparation H can cause allergic reactions in some people. Stop using the ointment and consult your doctor if:

  • The hemorrhoids worsen or do not improve within 7 days.
  • You develop bleeding from the hemorrhoids.
  • There is an allergic reaction.
  • You experience new symptoms, such as redness, rashes, swelling, irritation, or pain.
  • There is worsening of already existing symptoms.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medscape. Phenylephrine/Mineral Oil/Petrolatum Rectal (OTC). https://reference.medscape.com/drug/preparation-h-ointment-phenylephrine-mineral-oil-petrolatum-rectal-999740

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Holdings (US) LLC. Preparation H- Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Phenylephrine HCl Ointment. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=507c08ab-a98b-33fe-e2ac-eb9b9a810d5a&type=display

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