Preparation H Finds Place in Club Circuit

Men may be clueless about the real effects of the so-called muscle secret.

ByABC News
May 30, 2008, 5:08 PM

June 2, 2008— -- Of all the drugs young people can use at clubs, the latest trend in New York may be the least hip among all circles: Preparation H.

New York bouncer, blogger and author Rob Fitzgerald has noticed a trend among many of the macho young men waiting outside his clubs. He says the guys are slathering up their torsos with the hemorrhoid cream Preparation H to make themselves look "ripped" for the ladies.

Fitzgerald asked one of these guys to describe the practice for his blog, Clublife, "The way you use it is to take your shirt off and rub it all over yourself before you go to the club," a man who gave the alias, Peter Minichiello, says. "If you want to get [lucky], you have to know how to dance, and if you want girls to dance with you, you have to look ripped."

The idea is a bad imitation of a flab spot-treatment secret used by bodybuilders before a competition. But the clubbers who lube up may not like to hear what the medicine in Preparation H actually does to their frame or the real health risks it can pose.

"The bodybuilders I know use it on their obliques -- their love handles -- to take away any lingering water weight before shows," Fitzgerald told ABC News. "The guys in the clubs heard about this, and the use of it spread virally like some kind of Internet meme."

Preparation H contains a medication called phenylephrine HCL that -- when used for the drug's intended purpose -- will shrink the swollen tissues of hemorrhoids. It works by constricting the nearby blood vessels that feed blood and fluid to the area.

But the ingredient doesn't discriminate what kind of tissue it will shrink, hence the underground beauty tips of applying Preparation H under the eyes, on love handles or other places. None of which Wyeth, the makers of Preparation H, support.

"Applying it to one's chest is an off-label use of Preparation H," said Milicent Brooks, a representative of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare. "We don't approve or endorse any off-label uses."

For bodybuilders, amateur contests are a challenge to both build muscle and to showcase it. On a strength contest alone, hefty 300-pound football offensive linemen could enter. But to show muscles, bodybuilders must also thin anything that stands in the way between their brawn and the audience, including fat, skin and fluid.