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Topical Pain Relievers May Cause Burns

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Taylor Jackson5 years ago

According to the FDA, there have been 43 reported cases of consumers being chemically burned by the use of over-the-counter topical muscle and joint pain relievers. Consumers who experience burning pain or blistering when applying these products should seek medical attention immediately.

What is Causing the Burns?

  • According to the FDA, the burns were associated with topical pain relievers containing the active ingredients menthol, methyl salicylate and capsaicin.
  • Most of the more severe burns were associated with menthol or menthol/methyl salicylate. Most involved products with greater than 3% menthol or 10% methyl salicylate. Few involved capsaicin.
  • The number of cases is small compared to the number of people who purchase these products.
  • Menthol, methyl salicylate and capsaicin were designed to create sensations of local warmth or coolness, but should not burn.
  • The over-the-counter pain relievers include creams, lotions, ointments and patches. It includes the brands: Icy hot, Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, and Mentholatum.

Safety Tips for Consumers

(Information provided by the FDA.)

  • Don’t apply the product to damage or irritated skin.
  • Don’t apply bandages to the area where you’ve applied the reliever.
  • Don’t apply heat to the area where you applied the pain reliever.
  • Don’t allow the products to come in contact with eyes and mucous membranes.
  • While warming and cooling sensations are normal, watch for actual pain or signs of blistering or burning.
  • Report unexpected side effects from the use of pain relievers to the FDA MedWatch Program.
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