The FDA is warning people who use topical pain relievers that the products may cause rare cases of first-to-third degree chemical burns where the product was applied. The topical pain relievers, which are available in creams, ointments, lotions, and patches, are typically used to relieve mild muscle and joint pain.
The topical pain relievers can include single or combination ingredients which include menthol, methyl salicylate, or capsaicin. People must be aware that these products do produce a coolness and a sensation of warmth but they should not cause burning, pain, or skin damage. There have been rare instances of severe burns that required hospitalization. Sometimes the severe burns developed after only one application.
Of the 43 reported cases of burns, the majority involved products that contain higher concentrations of menthol and methyl salicylate (greater than 3% menthol and greater than 10% methyl salicylate). Few of the reported cases involved capsaicin.
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