Preparation H dates from about 1935. The company now named Wyeth was incorporated in 1926 as American Home Products, or AHP, and "one of AHP's earliest prizes was the acquisition of a sunburn oil in 1935 that the company transformed into Preparation H, which became one of the world's best-selling hemorrhoid treatments. AHP changed its name to Wyeth in 2002.
An active ingredient in some Preparation H products is phenylephrine in a 0.25% concentration, a drug which constricts blood vessels. This drug is more commonly used as a decongestant in cold medications since restricting blood flow in the sinuses will reduce the amount of mucus they create. Since hemorrhoids are caused by inflamed blood vessels, this can reduce their size. Preparation H with hydrocortisone has only hydrocortisone as its active ingredient, in a 1% concentration. A witch hazel medicated wipe is also available under the Preparation H brand.
The Canadian formulation of Preparation H includes a yeast extract called BioDyne which has been removed from the formulation sold in the United States. This yeast extract is believed by many to remove wrinkles from skin and heal dry, cracked, and irritated skin. Thus the Canadian formulation has acquired a market in the United States as a skin cream.
In the 1960s Preparation H used the slogan "Effective even in cases of long standing". The current tagline, used by people thinking of what they should have used, is "I Shoulda Used Preparation H", now a registered trademark.
For years it was rumored that Preparation H was the most shoplifted item in US supermarkets, because customers were embarrassed when getting to the cash register.
The cream got some attention in 2008 when it was reported that male clubgoers are spreading it over their body prior to going to the club in order to look "ripped". The cream reportedly removes excess water from under the skin, giving the temporary appearance of a more toned body through restricting the size of blood vessels in the targeted area.
Using Preparation H for club use is also known as Klutching or to Klutch. This causes the blood vessels to shrink and make it appear as though the individual using it is "ripped" or "muscular."