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.

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. OTC topical pain medicines (creams or ointments) containing methyl salicylate are to be applied only to the skin. Take care to avoid getting the medicine into your eyes and nose.

  • You are allergic to aspirin or salicylates.
  • You have redness over the affected area
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have an open wound or damaged skin.
  • 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.
  • Do not use an OTC containing methyl salicylate on a child under the age of 12 if the child has arthritis-like conditions.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before using an OTC medicine containing methyl salicylate on a child under the age of 12.
  • Click here for more information on giving OTCs to children.