Methyl Salicylate

What is methyl salicylate?

Methyl salicylate is an external analgesic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that temporarily relieve minor body aches and muscle and joint pain associated with backache, arthritis, strains, sprains, and bruises. Methyl salicylate can be found in topical pain medicines (e.g., creams or ointments) that contain more than one external analgesic active ingredient.

What is methyl salicylate used to treat?

  • Relieves minor body aches
  • Relieves muscle and joint pain
Common brands containing methyl salicylate:
  • Bengay
  • Deep Heating
  • Flexall
  • Icy Hot
  • Satogesic
  • Thera-Gesic

How much methyl salicylate can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for methyl salicylate

Methyl salicylate is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. You should not use more of the medicine or for longer than the label says.

Safe use tips:

  • You should only apply the medicine to your skin.
  • You should not tightly bandage the treated area. A tight bandage can trap too much of the active ingredient against your skin.
  • You should not use a heating pad on the treated area.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

  • You are allergic to aspirin or salicylates.
  • You have redness over the affected area
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before using an OTC topical pain reliever containing methyl salicylate or trolamine salicylate in a child age 12 and under.

Do not use if:

  • You have an open wound or damaged skin.
  • Do not use an OTC topical pain reliever containing methyl salicylate on a child under the age of 12 if the child has arthritis-like conditions.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • Your condition gets worse or if symptoms last for more than seven days.
  • Your symptoms clear up and occur again within a few days.
  • Excessive skin irritation occurs.
  • You accidentally swallow the medicine. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

What are the side effects of methyl salicylate?

  • A mild cold or burning sensation on the application site may occur. If these effects persist, contact your doctor.