FDA Warning: OTC Muscle And Joint Pain Relievers May Cause Burns
September 14, 2012

Possible Skin Burns From Muscle And Joint Pain Reliever

Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Completing a jog in the early morning at the park. Using weights for strength training at the gym. These are just a few exercises that individuals can participate in to increase physical fitness. For those who are feeling sore muscles or have irritated joints after any strenuous physical activity, be wary of certain products that may cause more injury than necessary. In particular, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that serious skin injuries have resulted from the use of particular over-the-counter (OTC) products that were applied to the skin to relieve mild muscle and joint pain.

With these OTC products, the agency noted that the injuries ranged from first- to third-degree chemical burns. When consumers had applied the products, they had felt a warm or cool sensation on their skin. Reuters reports that the FDA found 43 cases of serious burns due to the use of OTC topical muscle and joint pain relievers. Even with the number of cases over the years, the agency has not required that companies to include a warning label on the products regarding the burns.

"These products should not cause pain or skin damage; however, there have been rare cases of serious burns following their use. Some of the burns had serious complications requiring hospitalization," the agency wrote in a prepared a statement.

In the past, these OTC products have been utilized to provide temporary relief from joint aches and minor muscle pain. They included ingredients such as menthol, methyl, salite, or capsaicin. Available in different forms like creams, lotions, ointments, and patches, the products are marketed in relation to different brand-names like Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, Icy Hot, and Mentholatum.

The overall recommendation from the FDA is that consumers who notice some form of skin injury after applying the OTC product should stop using the product and consult a doctor immediately. Injuries to the skin include blistering, swelling, or pain on the skin. In addition, according to CNN, the FDA is advising consumers to not use the products on skin that is irritated or damaged. Individuals should also refrain from placing bandages on top of the product applied on the skin.

Furthermore, healthcare professionals should also discuss with their patients on how to correctly use the products and let them know about the possible risks of using the product. Any healthcare professionals who notice adverse events or side effects related to the OTC products are encouraged to contact the FDA as well.

"There's no way to predict who will have this kind of reaction to a topical pain reliever for muscles and joints," Dr. Jane Filie, a medical officer in the Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development (DNRD) under the FDA, told CNN.

According to the Associated Press, in 2008, Health Canada alerted consumers to refrain from using Kwan Loong Medicated Oil. The product included chloroform, which could cause burns and irritation to the user, and methyl salicylate, an ingredient not recommended for use by individuals who are allergic to salicylates or those who are taking anticoagulant medicines.