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Bengay is a topical pain relieving cream that produces a warming sensation when applied to the skin. Unfortunately, the FDA is warning that products like Bengay have been associated with dozens of burn injuries — including second- or third-degree burns that required hospitalization. Currently, the label for Bengay does not warn about the risk of burn injuries.

What is Bengay?

Bengay is a product that is used for the temporary relief of minor muscle aches, joint pain, backaches, minor arthritis, and more. It is a cream that is applied to the affected area, and causes a warming sensation. Johnson & Johnson manufactures Bengay. It has been sold in the U.S. for more than one hundred years.

Bengay comes in several varieties and strength. Some of the more powerful types of Bengay include:

  • Ultra Strength Bengay Cream: menthol (10%), methyl salicylate (30%), camphor (4%)
  • Arthritis Formula Bengay Cream: menthol (8%), methyl salicylate (30%)
  • Greaseless Bengay Pain Relieving Cream: menthol (10%), methyl salicylate (15%)
  • And more

When these active ingredients are applied to the skin, they cause blood vessels to dilate, and extra blood flows into the affected area. This causes a warming sensation.

FDA Warning for Bengay

September 13, 2012 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made a Safety Announcement after investigators identified dozens of burn injuries associated with topical pain relieving products. The most serious injuries were associated with products containing at least 3% menthol and 10% methyl salicylate — and some types of Bengay contain even more than this amount.

The FDA identified 43 incident reports, all of which were confirmed by a health care professional. Several incidents involved second- and third-degree burns, and some people required hospitalization for their injuries.

The FDA advised that customers should stop using a topical pain reliever if they experience burning, pain, swelling, or inflammation. Topical pain relievers are not supposed to cause pain. Furthermore, the FDA recommended:

  • Topical pain relievers should not be used on skin that is damaged, broken, or irritated
  • These products should not be used in combination with another source of heat, such as a heat lamp, pad, or hot water bottle
  • Do not tightly bandage a topical pain reliever against the skin

Bengay Chemical Burns

Chemical burns occur when a chemical causes tissue damage. If the chemical remains in contact with the skin, the tissue damage can be very severe. Chemical burns may cause scarring and permanent disfigurement. Hospital treatment may be necessary in severe cases.

The FDA recommends immediately discontinuing use of a topical pain reliever if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Redness, discoloration of the affected area
  • Blisters on the skin


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