If you use topical pain relievers, be aware that some can cause serious skin injuries, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned.
Sold over the counter for the relief of muscle and joint pain, these creams, ointments and patches contain capsaicin (from hot peppers), menthol and/or methyl salicylate, which produce a warm or icy sensation on the skin.
But more than 40 cases of chemical burns—many after just one use and some requiring hospitalization—have been reported to the FDA. The reactions occurred within 24 hours, and most were from products with higher concentrations of menthol (more than 3 percent) or methyl salicylate (more than 10 percent).
Don’t apply these products to irritated or broken skin, and don’t put bandages or apply heat over the area.