menthol and methylsalicylate (Bengay, Icy Hot, Mentholatum D, Salonpas)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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GENERIC NAME: menthol and methylsalicylate

BRAND NAME: Bengay, Icy Hot, Mentholatum D, Salonpas

PRESCRIPTION: No

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

USES: Menthol and methylsalicylate are used for minor aches and joint and muscle pain due to backache, arthritis, strains, sprains, and bruises.

SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects of menthol/methylsalicylate are:

  • stinging,
  • burning,
  • hypersensitivity,
  • redness, and
  • tingling sensation of skin.

Although the likelihood is low these products may increase the risk of bleeding in individuals who have ulcers, elderly, are taking NSAIDs (for example ibuprofen), steroids, drink more than 3 drinks a day, or have other risks for stomach bleeding.

PREGNANCY AND BREASTFEEDING SAFETY: There are no adequate studies done on menthol and methylsalicylate to determine safe and effective use in pregnant women.

It is not known whether menthol and methylsalicylate enters breast milk; therefore, it is best to be cautious before using it in nursing mothers.

STORAGE: Menthol/methylsalicylate creams and patch are stored between 20 C to 25 C (68 F to 77 F). Balms are stored between 15 C to 30 C (59F to 86 F). Sprays, sticks, and foams should be stored away from heat and direct sunlight.

PREPARATIONS: Menthol/methylsalicylate topical products are available in cream, balm, spray, stick, patch, and foam.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Menthol/methylsalicylate topical products should be used with caution with blood thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin), nonsteroidal anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and steroids due to increased likelihood of bruising and bleeding resulting from methylsalicylate which acts like aspirin and can affect blood clotting.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/5/2016

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