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What Is Icy Hot?

Icy Hot Formulations Relieve Minor Arthritis Pain

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Updated September 21, 2012

Icy Hot is a topical pain reliever that is used for minor arthritis pain, aching joints, and sore muscles. Icy Hot is available in several different formulations but the brand name is best known for being the #1 selling over-the-counter medicated back patch, according to icyhot.com.

How Icy Hot Works

The active ingredients in Icy Hot forumulations are menthol or a combination of menthol and methyl salicylate. The ingredients cause a cooling sensation followed by a warming sensation which distract you from the pain by blocking pain signals sent to the brain. The cooling sensation dulls the pain, while the warming sensation relaxes it away.

Available Formulations

There are 11 formulations of Icy Hot: the Icy Hot Patch, Roll, Sleeve, Naturals, No Mess, Spray, Power Gel, Vanishing Scent, Cream, Balm, and Stick. All formulations are for external use only.

Icy Hot Patch

The Icy Hot Patch has 5% menthol on an adhesive pad which is applied to the affected area (external use only). The patch, which measures 5 1/2 inches by 9 3/4 inches, is recommended for relief of minor pain associated with arthritis, simple backache, bursitis, tendonitis, muscle strains, sprains, bruises, or cramps. Adults and children over 12 years old can wear an Icy Hot Patch for up to 8 hours. You may repeat but only up to three times daily.

Icy Hot Roll

The Icy Hot Roll has 7.5% menthol on the roll which can be cut to size for a custom fit. The custom cut strips should be no longer than 6 inches long. The roll is available in two sizes: 2 inches by 60 inches or 3 inches by 43 inches. This formulation is useful for arthritis, simple backache, muscle strain, sprains, bruises and, cramps as well. Adults and children over 12 years old can wear the strips for up to 8 hours and may repeat up to 3 to 4 times daily.

Icy Hot Sleeve

The Icy Hot Sleeve has 16% menthol in lotion on a flexible sleeve pad. The sleeve expands to fit 8 inches to 24 inches in circumference. It, too, is useful for arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, muscle strains, sprains, bruises, and cramps. Primarily, the sleeve is used for the ankle, elbow, and knee joints. You can apply a sleeve up to 4 times daily. You should follow directions for applying the sleeve correctly.

Icy Hot Naturals

Icy Hot Naturals contains 7.5% menthol and 4 essential oils. This formulation is used for the same aforementioned conditions (arthritis, simple backache, bursitis, tendonitis, muscle strains, sprains, bruises, or cramps). According to directions, the product is applied to the affected area and massaged in until it is absorbed into the skin. You can repeat up to a maximum of 3 or 4 times daily.

Icy Hot No Mess

Icy Hot No Mess has a handy, no-mess, roll-on applicator. It is quick drying and does not stain. The 2.5 ounce bottle contains 16% menthol as the active ingredient. The formulation is to be applied to the affected area, massaged into the skin. You can repeat for a total of 3 or 4 times a day. It is used for the aforementioned conditions.

Icy Hot Spray

Icy Hot Spray is a no-mess continuous spray formulation, containing 16% menthol as the active ingredient. It is used for the same aforementioned conditions and is sprayed on the affected area. The product dries quickly so there is no need to massage it in. You can repeat up to 3 or 4 times daily. The product carries warnings about it being flammable -- do not use when smoking or near heat or flame. Read the label for further instructions.

Icy Hot Power Gel

Icy Hot Power Gel is fast-acting, quick-drying formula with 16% menthol as its active ingredient. It is used for the same conditions. Directions state that the product should be applied generously to the affected area, massaged into the skin, and repeated up to 3 or 4 times total daily.

Icy Hot Vanishing Scent

Icy Hot Vanishing Scent comes in a 2.5 ounce tube with a sponge applicator. The active ingredient is 2.5% menthol. Directions state that the product should be squeezed onto the affected area. Then, using the sponge applicator, it should be massaged in until it is absorbed. It can be repeated up to a maximum of 4 times a day. The scent disappears quickly after application.

Icy Hot Cream

Icy Hot Cream is a non-greasy formulation which works immediately on contact. The product should be applied to the affected area, massaged in to promote absorption -- and repeated up to 4 times daily. It is used for the same conditions listed under each of the other Icy Hot formulations. The active ingredients in Icy Hot Cream are 10% menthol and 30% methyl salicylate. It comes in two sizes - a 3 ounce or 1.25 ounce tube.

Icy Hot Balm

Icy Hot Balm contains 7.6% menthol and 29% methyl salicylate. The product is applied to the affected area of the aforementioned conditions, massaged in until absorbed, and repeated up to 4 times daily. The balm is available in a 3.5 ounce jar.

Icy Hot Stick

Icy Hot Stick contains 10% menthol and 30% methyl salicylate as the active ingredients. It should be applied to the affected area, massaged in until absorbed into the skin, and may be repeated up to 4 times a day. It is used for the same conditions listed under the other formulations. It is available in a 1.75 ounce stick.

Warnings

The warnings on the label of all of the formulations of Icy Hot state the following:

  • Use only as directed.
  • Avoid contact with eyes or mucous membranes.
  • Do not apply to wounds or irritated, broken, or damaged skin.
  • Do not bandage tightly or use with a heating pad.
  • If you are prone to allergy from aspirin or salicylates consult a doctor before using the formulations that contain methyl salicylate.

The U.S. FDA warned consumers in September 2012 that topical pain relievers may cause first-to-third degree chemical burns where the product was applied. The topical pain relievers (creams, ointments, lotions, and patches) may include menthol, methyl salicylate, or capsaicin.

Sources:

Icy Hot. Icyhot.com. Accessed 09/20/12.
http://www.icyhot.com/

FDA Drug Safety Communication: Rare cases of serious burns with the use of over-the-counter topical muscle and joint pain relievers. 09/13/2012.
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm318858.htm

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