Topical Pain Relievers Linked to Burns, Serious Skin Injuries

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September 13, 2012 – The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning today alerting the public and medical communities that the use of certain over-the-counter (OTC) topical pain relievers has been linked to serious burns and other skin injuries. OTC pain relievers named in the FDA’s warning include Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, Icy Hot, and Mentholatum. The administration is advising consumers who experience any adverse side effects after using these products to contact their healthcare providers immediately.

What’s the problem?

According to the FDA’s press release, the above-mentioned OTC topical pain relievers – which are applied to the skin to treat mild muscle and joint pain – have been reported in some users to cause serious skin injuries, ranging from first to third degree chemical burns. Some of these burns were so severe that they required emergency hospitalization to treat.

These pain relievers are available as single or combination ingredient products that contain menthol, methyl salicylate, or capsaicin. They are offered in a variety of formulations including creams, lotions, ointments, and patches.

The FDA is advising consumers who use Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, Icy Hot, or Mentholatum to stop using the product and seek medical attention immediately if they experience signs of skin injury such as pain, swelling, or blistering where the pain reliever was applied. Healthcare providers have been advised to counsel patients about how to use these products correctly when recommending them.

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