Burn Risk from Common Topical Muscle and Joint Pain Relievers

If you can purchase a medication or cream in a supermarket without a prescription, it has to be safe…right?  Not necessarily.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released an advisory for common over-the-counter (OTC) topical muscle and joint pain relievers, including Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, Icy Hot, and Mentholatum. The various formulations–which include creams, lotions, ointments, and patches–have been reported to cause rare cases of serious skin injuries, such as third-degree chemical burns where the products were applied. Some of the burns had serious complications requiring hospitalization.

The FDA recommends that consumers using an OTC topical muscle and joint pain reliever who experience signs of skin injury where the product was applied (such as pain, swelling, or blistering of the skin) should stop using the product and seek medical attention immediately. The products are not being recalled; the FDA simply wants to make consumers aware of the potential for injury.

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