How Salonpas Works to Relieve Pain

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Salonpas is an adhesive patch approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide relief for mild to moderate pain due to arthritis and other causes. It contains a variety of topical medications for treating inflammation. Although it can be purchased over the counter, it's ideal to check with your healthcare provider before you use Salonpas to make sure it's the best option for you.

A woman applying a pain patch
B. BOISSONNET / BSIP / Corbis / Getty Images

Overview

Salonpas patches are made by Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Company. The Salonpas Pain Relief Patch was approved by the FDA for the United States market in 2008.Since then a variety of Salonpas products (six patches, one cream, one gel, one liquid, and one jet spray) have been introduced. An arthritis-specific patch has been discontinued, however.

Salonpas patches are made of thin, stretchable fabric containing two active ingredients that work together as a topical anlgesic: menthol (3%) and methyl salicylate (10%). A single patch is reportedly effective for 8 to 12 hours.

How It Works

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, and the medication is then absorbed through the skin.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, topical medications can be effective in reducing inflammation caused by arthritis and that, in turn, may relieve pain. Salonpas decreases proteins in the joint fluid that cause inflammation.

You must use only one patch at a time, and it should be left in place for 8 to 12 hours. If you are still in pain, you can remove the patch and apply another one. The directions state that you should use no more than two patches a day and for no more than three days in a row.

Indications

Salonpas is indicated for the relief of mild to moderate aches and pains of the muscles and joints. It is often recommended for arthritis, backache, strains, and sprains. It is only for those age 18 and older.

Warnings and Precautions

Even though Salonpas does not require a prescription, it's not entirely safe for everyone. It is very important to read the label before using the product and have a conversation with your healthcare provider. Your medical history may indicate that these patches are not appropriate for you.

Stomach bleeding: Because Salonpas contains a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), methyl salicylate, there is a risk of stomach bleeding. This risk may be higher for people over 60 as well as those who have a history of bleeding problems or take blood thinners or corticosteroids. Also, there may be interactions with oral NSAIDs (e.g., naproxenibuprofen) or alcohol.

Skin irritation: Any topical medication can cause skin irritations, and Salonpas is no different. It should not be used on your face or over any rashes, wounds, or other skin damage. If you notice any new skin irritations, stop using the patch.

Allergies: If you have an allergy to aspirin, NSAIDs, or other topical products, do not use Salonpas without speaking with your healthcare provider.

Contraindications

Salonpas is not recommended for anyone who:

A Word From Verywell

Salonpas may be a good alternative if you have arthritis and need to treat inflammation, but you cannot tolerate oral medications or had an inadequate response with its use. Salonpas, like any medication, is associated with potential side effects, but they appear to be fewer than with oral NSAIDs. Nevertheless, you must consult your healthcare provider before trying any new product or treatment.

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  1. The FDA approved the Salonpas Pain Relief Patch for the US market in 2008.

    Drug Approval Package: Salonpas. US Food & Drug Administration.

  2. US Hisamitsu. Products.

  3. Pergolizzi JV, Taylor R, Lequang JA, Raffa RB. The role and mechanism of action of menthol in topical analgesic products. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2018;43(3):313-319.

  4. Higashi Y, Kiuchi T, Furuta K. Efficacy and safety profile of a topical methyl salicylate and menthol patch in adult patients with mild to moderate muscle strain: A randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, multicenter study. Clin Ther. 2010;32(1):34-43.

  5. Arthritis Foundation. Fight Arthritis Pain Without Pills.

  6. Frequently Asked Questions. Salonpas. US Hisamitsu.

  7. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. FDA warns about serious bleeding risk with over-the-counter antacid products containing aspirin. 2016.

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