Image Source: Getty / Caroline Tompkins
Every one of us has probably experienced waking up in the morning with puffy undereyes at least once or twice in our lives. For some of us, puffiness and eye bags are an everyday occurrence, and for others, it's something that only happens every so often. Regardless of when, where, or why it occurs, whenever it does, your first instinct might be to get rid of them — and fast. While we've been operating under the idea that there is no quick fix to undereye puffiness and wrinkles, apparently, TikTok disagrees. A video created by user Sheetal Deo recently went viral, and in the video, Deo says her secret to a smooth undereye area is none other than — wait for it — hemorrhoid cream.
In the video, Deo says to the camera, "Basically, what the hemorrhoid cream does is it helps to reduce the puffiness and the fine lines under your eyes. I've been using hemorrhoid cream under my eyes for 10 years. I am 32 years old, and I have absolutely zero wrinkles." Deo adds that she keeps the cream by her bed and uses it every night and that she's found it's better than any eye cream out there.
Although we've found some pretty legitimate beauty hacks from TikTok, we couldn't help but wonder: did using hemorrhoid cream under the eyes actually work to reduce puffiness and wrinkles, and was it even safe? To answer all of our burning questions, we tapped Purvisha Patel, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare.
What Causes Puffiness Under the Eyes?
Before we get into how to treat a puffy undereye area, let's first cover what causes these bags in the first place. Typically, they are caused by two main culprits: genetics and lifestyle. While the former is self-explanatory, the other can mean many things. "There are lymphatic channels that travel around the eyes and orbital area, and because these channels do not have valves, they can get congested with lymphatic fluid," Dr. Patel says. Common habitual causes can include not drinking enough water, sleeping on your face, allergies, chronic rubbing, or using skin-care products that are irritating to the skin.
Can Hemorrhoid Cream Help With Undereye Bags?
The long and short of it is that yes, it can — but it's probably not the best option out there. Hemorrhoid creams are typically used to relieve irritation and swelling caused by swollen veins in the anus and around the rectum. The main ingredient in hemorrhoid creams like Preparation H is phenylephrine, which can help reduce swelling by temporarily restricting blood vessels. These creams also typically contain steroids that are anti-inflammatory, and Dr. Patel says this helps with inflammation and increased blood flow to puffy eyes as well.
That said, steroids aren't something you want super up close and personal with your eyes, especially not for a long period of time. "Using steroids on the skin, especially around the eyes, can result in further skin thinning and lightening, which is irreversible," she says.
Potential Risks of Using Hemorrhoid Cream Under the Eyes
The fact of the matter is that most hemorrhoid creams include warnings not to use them on areas of the body that they are not intended or formulated for — which includes around your eyes and anywhere on your face. In addition to skin thinning and lightening, using hemorrhoid cream near the eyes could lead to more serious side effects, like cataracts and glaucoma.
While there are plenty of TikTok videos on the app showcasing people who have used hemorrhoid cream under their eyes with good (albeit short-lived) results, there are even more videos of users showing how things went very, very wrong. Some users have complained of skin burns and even cornea damage.
The Best Way to Treat Undereye Puffiness
Instead of running out to the drugstore and buying a hemorrhoid cream just because TikTok told you to, there are a few other routes you can try that are infinitely safer. Start by making sure you're drinking at least six glasses of water a day and getting a full eight hours of sleep. Cold compresses and allergy medications can also relieve some of the symptoms of puffy eyes. "Cool compresses are helpful in the morning to wake you up and depuff the skin, as it constricts the blood vessels to decrease the puffiness temporarily, and taking an antihistamine can work wonders for those with allergies," Dr. Patel says.
If those avenues don't work, Dr. Patel suggests opting for undereye products that contain caffeine, like the Visha Skincare Advanced Bright Eye Booster ($45), which can offer temporary results. "Caffeine is a great skin-care ingredient that helps stimulate circulation to reduce puffiness and dark undereye bags quickly."
Another option, if you're looking for a longer-term solution, is to get dermal fillers. While there are many different types of filler on the market, most are made up of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance in your skin, which is then injected to the undereye area by a dermatologist or skin-care expert to add volume and hydration.
"Puffiness is technically what fillers shouldn't be able to fix, but we can obscure puffiness by sculpting and supporting the skin," board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon Ellen Marmur, MD, previously told POPSUGAR. Should you go this route, results can last anywhere between six to eight months or longer, depending on the type of filler you choose.