Icy Hot is the brand name of a line of over-the-counter products used to temporarily relieve joint or muscle pain associated with many conditions, including cramps, bruises, sprains, muscle strains, backaches and arthritis. Although Icy Hot products are available over the counter, they may be dangerous if misused. People should always read the directions thoroughly before using Icy Hot products and call a doctor or pharmacist with any questions.
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Icy Hot products contain menthol or a combination of menthol and methyl salicylate, according to the brand's official website. While Icy Hot products do not actually produce heat or cold, the ingredients of these products cause people to experience a cooling and warming sensation at the application site. These sensations serve a dual purpose, acting to distract the user from the pain and to reduce or block the pain signals sent to the brain.
Icy Hot is available in many forms. Patches come in two sizes for use on the back, with the extra-large back patch being 75 percent larger than the regular back patch size. There are also patches made for use on the arms, neck and legs. The Icy Hot roll and the Icy Hot sleeve each come in two different sizes. It is also available as a spray, gel, cream and balm. Other products include the Icy Hot No Mess, which offers Icy Hot in liquid form in a plastic applicator; and Icy Hot Vanishing Scent Gel. All forms of Icy Hot work in a similar manner and are readily available without a prescription at many mass retailers. People should consider the location and type of pain, as well as personal preference when determining which form to use.
In February 2008, Chattem, Inc., the manufacturer of Icy Hot, voluntarily recalled its Icy Hot Heat Therapy products due to consumer reports of first-, second- and third-degree burns and skin irritation or removal from the products, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. The recall only involved Icy Hot Heat Therapy products and did not involve other Icy Hot products.
Most people do not experience any unwelcome side effects from using Icy Hot products, according to Drugs.com. However, some experience skin redness or irritation at the application site. Sudden itching, hives, rash, difficulty breathing or swelling after using an Icy Hot product may indicate a severe allergic reaction. People having an allergic reaction to these products need immediate medical attention.
Icy Hot products should only be used on individuals over the age of 12. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also consult a doctor before using Icy Hot products. Individuals using Icy Hot products should also consult a doctor if their pain has not improved within seven days, according to the Icy Hot website.
Icy Hot products are designed to work on the neck, shoulder, back, arms, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. Using these products on other areas of the body or ingesting the product may be dangerous. Individuals should only use Icy Hot products as intended. Taking more than the recommended amount of Icy Hot may result in a methyl salicylate overdose, which may be dangerous and requires immediate medical attention, warns Medline Plus.