Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

July 9, 2018

Preparation H: What Happened to the “H”?

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:52 am

Some products have been around so long and are so familiar to shoppers that everyone knows exactly what the product is by just seeing or hearing its name. We know that Ex-Lax is a laxative, that Pepto-Bismol is for an upset stomach, and that Preparation H is for shrinking your hemorrhoids.

Recently, a friend of MrConsumer’s asked him to pick up a box of Preparation H cream — the one that had one-percent hydrocortisone in it. He didn’t want the one with lidocaine, nor the regular ointment, nor the regular cream, but only the cream in the red box with the added hydrocortisone to treat both his hemorrhoids and his itching.

Preparation H

After purchasing it, and not being familiar with the ingredients in the product, MrConsumer discovered there was only one active ingredient in it.


Preparation H active ingredients

The only ingredient that actually did anything was the hydrocortisone, according to the label. If that is the case, then what the heck is in the regular Preparation H cream without hydrocortisone?


Preparation H regular cream ingredients

Wow… a whole bunch of stuff for shrinking hemorrhoids and treating itching. What became instantly clear was that the Preparation H hydrocortisone product was just plain old 1% hydrocortisone, like any other brand of hydrocortisone, and had little to do with Preparation H as people know and understand it.

Preparation H hydrocortisone 1% costs $9.29 at CVS. A tube of 1% hydrocortisone at Dollar Tree costs $1. Yet MrConsumer’s friend swears by the brand name which is technically incapable of shrinking hemorrhoids.

Share this story:


• • •


  1. Good information, that is quite expensive hydrocortisone. I also have a “friend” that suffers from Hemorrhoids. Wink. nod!

    Edgar replies: Ha, ha, Tim. But it really is a friend. MrConsumer would have bought the Dollar Tree hydrocortisone and saved $8!

    Comment by Tim — July 9, 2018 @ 7:36 am
  2. This is such a weird case of brand loyalty. I’m with Mr. Consumer I would be buying the Dollar Tree brand, what do some people think is the difference? If it literally tells you the active ingredients are exactly identical, do people think the “inactive” ingredients do something?

    Comment by Joel — July 9, 2018 @ 9:17 am
  3. For the unsuspecting consumer, this sneaky product reformulation is quite literally a pain in the butt.

    Comment by Richard — July 9, 2018 @ 9:34 am
  4. Joel … yes, sometimes the inactive ingredients do something … but, due to licensing/regulation/FDA/etc, cannot be listed as ‘active’ without risking lawsuits. Mostly, they’re just filler; often, they’re necessary for preserving the ‘active’ ingredient; rarely, the difference between two products – brand name vs generic – is in the ‘inactive’ ingredients, and the difference in efficacy has been shown … in limited trials … and the company is unwilling to spend the extra $$$ required to get this proven to governmental satisfaction.

    Comment by Leslie — July 9, 2018 @ 9:46 am
  5. I believe one of the “inactive” ingredients in the original formula was Witch hazel which is an astringent. So if it is still there one might need to use the dollar store hydrocortisone AND witch hazel together to get the same effect.

    Comment by Nora — July 9, 2018 @ 10:54 am
  6. I always read for the active ingredients to see what’s actually supposed to do something in the product. I’m usually more concerned about active ingredients in generic brands, but it looks like I may have to watch closely with brand name medications too.

    For my friends…

    Comment by Wayne — July 9, 2018 @ 2:58 pm
  7. If you read the box you posted, it doesn’t say anything about, nor make any claim of, shrinking hemorrhoids. It says “Effective Relief of Anal Itch”, which is what Hydrocortisone does. Granted, some might pick it up thinking it is regular Preparation H, but that would be their fault for not reading the package. I also agree that there are many sources of 1% Hydrocortisone cream which are less expensive and I also avail myself of those less expensive brands. Basically, this is just a case of Caveat Emptor and nothing more.

    Comment by Phil — July 9, 2018 @ 4:23 pm
  8. Man, you guys are overspending on your hydrocortisone creams at the dollar store! I get the Natureplex brand for $0.88 at Walmart and the last time I bought some I noticed a Preparation H box on the shelf near the other options and thought it odd but dismissed it for a stocking fluke. I can see this catching plenty of unsuspecting consumers if it was next to the real hemorrhoid creams. Were the products right together at your store? At my Walmart they might be in the same isle but they weren’t next to one another.

    Comment by jt4703 — July 11, 2018 @ 10:37 pm

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by: WordPressPrivacy Policy
Mouse Print exposes the strings and catches buried in the fine print of advertising.
Copyright © 2006-2019. All rights reserved. Advertisements are copyrighted by their respective owners.