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Salonpas - What You Should Know

An Over-the-Counter Pain Patch

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Updated September 25, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is Salonpas?

Salonpas Pain Relief Patch and Salonpas Arthritis are the only over-the-counter (OTC) pain-relief patches approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Salonpas patches are thin, stretchable and contain anti-inflammatory ingredients -- menthol (3%) and methyl salicylate (10%). The active ingredients work together as topical analgesics, relieving mild to moderate pain for up to 12 hours.

When Was Salonpas Introduced?

Salonpas is a product of Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical, a company whose history dates back to the mid-1800s. Salonpas was introduced in 1934. First distributed in Asia, the product is now available in 50 countries throughout the world. The FDA approved the Salonpas Pain Relief Patch for the U.S. market in 2008.

There are now several Salonpas products besides Salonpas Pain Relief Patch and Salonpas Arthritis Pain. They are: Salonpas Large, Salonpas Hot, Air Salonpas, Salonpas Gel and the Salonsip Aqua-Patch.

What Is the Clinical Trial Record for Salonpas?

The manufacturer of Salonpas deemed the product safe and effective after evaluating placebo-controlled clinical trials involving more than 800 patients.

How Does Salonpas Work?

As a topical analgesic, Salonpas should only be used externally. The patch is transdermal, meaning that after the backing is removed, the patch is applied over the painful area. The medication is then absorbed through the skin.

You must use only one patch at a time, and it should be left in place for eight to 12 hours. If you are still in pain, you can remove the patch and apply another one for another eight to 12 hours. Directions state that you can use only one patch at a time; no more than two a day; and for no more than three days in a row. Children under 18 years old should not use Salonpas at all.

What Are the Indications?

Salonpas is indicated for the relief of mild to moderate aches and pains of muscles and joints, related to arthritis, backache, strains and sprains. You do not need a prescription for Salonpas; however, it's important to let your doctor know about all drugs and treatments you are using, whether they are prescription or OTC. Be sure to inform your doctor that you are using Salonpas.

What Are the Warnings?

Salonpas comes with a warning about stomach bleeding because the product contains a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) , methyl salicylate. The risk of stomach bleeding is small, but it increases if you are 60 or older, have a history of bleeding problems, take blood thinners or steroids, take other oral NSAIDs (e.g., naproxen, ibuprofen), have three or more alcoholic drinks daily while using the patches, or do not follow instructions about the limits of use.

You should not use Salonpas on your face or over any rashes. The product should also not be used on open wounds or damaged skin. It should not be used with a heating pad. Salonpas is not appropriate for patients right before or after heart surgery. If you have a known allergy to aspirin or NSAIDs, do not use Salonpas.

Also, you should not use a patch from a pouch that has been opened for 14 or more days. Before using Salonpas, talk to your doctor if:

  • You have known allergies to topical products
  • You had an incident of stomach bleeding at some point
  • You have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease or take a diuretic (water pill)

If you are breastfeeding or are in your first six months of pregnancy, consult your doctor before trying Salonpas. Do not use Salonpas during the last three months of pregnancy because it could potentially cause problems for the unborn baby or during delivery.

Bottom Line

Salonpas may be a good alternative for patients who need to treat inflammation, but who have difficulty with oral medications. Salonpas, like any medication, has side effects, but they appear to be fewer than for oral NSAIDs.

Sources:

Salonpas. What Is Salonpas? Accessed 10/24/11.
http://www.salonpas.us/how-it-works/benefit-salonpas

Salonpas FAQ. Accessed 10/24/11.
http://www.salonpas.us/category/faq

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