Icy Hot While Pregnant [Guide]: Safe or High Risk? | 11 Alternatives for You

When a woman is expecting, there are times when she may experience extreme aches and pains. It is not always backaches and other typical pain that she has. While pregnant, a woman can experience pinched nerves which bring unbearable pain.

This type of pain is something I have personally experienced. As I began to have these different pains, I certainly searched for pain relievers. While searching, I would commonly come across ointments and other over-the-counter medications, but there is a lot of discussions centered on the safety of using these products when pregnant.

You might have considered Icy Hot pregnant as a possible solution for the pain. It’s possible that, while having soreness and muscle pain, you tried Icy Hot to bring some relief.

Is it safe to use when pregnant? I had the same question and, for that reason, I put a lot of time and effort into researching the topic to see for myself if it was safe. Here, I will take a look at what I found about this product’s ingredients, its side effects, its level of safety for pregnant women, and other ways to treat pain.

What Exactly Is Icy Hot?

Icy Hot is a pain reliever that’s designed to be used topically for joint and muscle pain as well as other similar types of minor aches. It is a cream that can usually be purchased at most any drug store. It is used for backaches, muscle strains, bruises, general strains, and arthritis. Some women report that it also helps relieve menstrual cramps.

A few variations of Icy Hot products are power gel, balm, patches, a device called “Smart Relief,” gel spray, and sleeve. Their ingredients are mostly the same when it comes to relieving aches and pains.

How Icy Hot Works

Two of its main ingredients include menthol and methyl salicylate which reduce aches. These ingredients cause the skin to feel cool at first and then warm. These sensations distract a person from the pains and aches that they otherwise feel with their joints and muscles and tendons. These sensations actually help to block pain signals that would otherwise reach the brain.

The cool sensation that the cream creates causes pain to be reduced. Then, the warm sensation is actually able to relax the muscles so that the pain further dissipates. The cream is designed to be used externally only and you should apply it directly to the part of the body that is having pain. Here are its active ingredients:

1. Camphor

This is an ingredient commonly found in essential oils that are used for coughs and flu. When it is inhaled, it gives a soothing effect to pains and aches commonly experienced when a person has those illnesses.

It’s also used in mothballs to keep away bugs that would otherwise damage your wardrobe. This is good evidence that it is safe to use on most people’s skin because it gets on clothes that then touch the skin.

2. Menthol

This is a common ingredient found in many over-the-counter ointments. It’s also found in toothpaste, candies, and mouthwash. It has a soothing element which comes from its connection with eucalyptus, peppermint, and other mint sources. It helps alleviate pain by providing a cooling sensation that brings temporary relief.

3. Methyl Salicylate

This is yet another ingredient designed to produce a cooling sensation. You will often find this ingredient in facial cleansers. This is good evidence that it is perfectly safe to use on your skin as a topical ointment.

This ingredient is found in wintergreens and has a sweet odor but the liquid is colorless. In some cosmetic products, this ingredient is used and it can be found in massage oils as well.

To use Icy Hot, you simply apply it directly to the skin on the area where you have pain. Like any ointment or liniment that is being put on the skin, you will need to be careful about putting it on areas that are sensitive. These areas include your mouth, eyes, nose, and genitals. If you wear contact lenses, then be even more cautious about putting it close to your eyes.

Are There Any Side Effects When Using Icy Hot for Pain Relief?

Although the side effects are very rare, it is possible that someone might experience these and, in the rarest situation, the side effect could be deadly. For this reason, you should discuss the matter with your doctor, especially if you begin to have any symptoms that you believe are related to the potential side effects.

1. Rash

On occasion, someone might break out in a rash or experience itching or have hives. If your skin becomes swollen, red, blistered, or your skin begins to peel, then you are possibly having a reaction to the liniment.

If you begin to wheeze or feel your throat or chest tighten and this causes difficulty breathing or swallowing, then you should go to your doctor immediately. If you have problems talking or you have unexpected hoarseness or your face, tongue or lips swell, then this is a bad reaction.

2. Skin Irritation

If you spoke to your doctor before using this liniment and yet you still have this type of side effect, then the doctor probably felt that the benefit would outweigh the risk. The average person will not have these types of side effects. If you do have unusual skin irritation, then you should speak to your doctor to determine whether or not to continue using the product.

3. Burning Sensation

Although very rare, a person may feel their skin begin to have a stinging or burning sensation. This will typically go away after using the liniment a few days. If it is intolerable or continues for more than a few days, then it could be that you are having a severe reaction. You should call your doctor about whether or not to continue using the product.

Is It Really Safe to Use Icy Hot While Pregnant?

Icy Hot is actually not recommended for use when a woman is in any stage of pregnancy. This includes after they’ve given birth and are nursing. The reason for this is the use of menthol and the fact that it penetrates the skin and this means that it can be absorbed by the baby. In some cases, this could cause a bad effect on the baby.

WebMD says that this liniment shouldn’t be used during the first six months of pregnancy and when it is used, it should be done only when it is needed the most. It says that a woman shouldn’t use it during the last 3 months of pregnancy because it may harm the baby and it may cause difficulties with delivering the baby.

There are other respected resources that say that Icy Hot shouldn’t be used when a woman is nursing. They say that it increases the risk of Reye’s syndrome. Most of these warnings come from the fact that the product contains menthol. Even though it is applied externally, it absorbs through the skin and gets into the body which can impact the baby.

Some sources also say that part of the problem is how it stimulates nerve receptors that cause the cold and hot sensations. It is believed that the product can irritate your nervous system. This, in part, controls the baby’s development while in the mother’s womb. You certainly wouldn’t want any problems with your baby’s development.

If you are already pregnant or you are trying to become pregnant, then you should discuss it with your doctor. They can have a conversation with you about the risks and benefits of using Icy Hot for pain relief. If you’re breastfeeding and want to use the product, you should discuss it with your doctor. They should tell you about any potential risks to your baby. If you have used it without knowing the risks, you can simply stop using it and then speak with a physician about any concerns.

What Do You Do If You’ve Already Used It?

There are lots of women out there that use this product when experiencing pain. They had no idea that this over-the-counter pain reliever isn’t safe for their baby. If you have used this while pregnant or breastfeeding, you shouldn’t panic. There’s a really good chance that everything is perfectly fine with you and your baby.

Even so, you should stop using it immediately until you can speak to a doctor. At the first possible chance, call your doctor and discuss the matter in detail with them. If they feel that it’s okay for you to continue using it, then it’s likely they feel the benefit is more than the potential risk.

Still, you should probably use it as sparingly as possible and only when truly needed. You can regularly check in with your obstetrician just to make sure that your baby is fine and developing properly.

Alternatives to Icy Hot for Pregnant Women

When it comes to pregnancy, you need to have a strong back. This is many women want to use Icy Hot, even when they know they shouldn’t use it. The good news is there are a few alternatives you can try. The following may help you if you have a bad back:

1. Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your back can cause more back pain and lead to more discomfort. This is why you should practice sleeping on your side. If you find sleeping on your side to be too uncomfortable, then buy a pregnancy support pillow.

2. Massage therapy

A massage therapist can provide you with a prenatal massage. Make sure you choose one that specializes in this type of massage. Prenatal massages can help get rid of back and hip pain that many pregnant women experience.

3. Essential oils

There are essential oils that are perfectly safe for pregnant women. Some of the best ones include magnesium and arnica. There are many other essential oils you can use and this includes:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Tangerine
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Neroli
  • Cypress

Although there are many essential oils that are good for pregnant women, there are many that aren’t. Some essential oils can cause negative effects, such as high or low blood pressure. You should not use these oils if you are pregnant:

  • Rose
  • Cumin
  • Jasmine
  • Citronella
  • Clary Sage
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Laurel
  • Thyme
  • Aniseed

4. Good posture

Your center of gravity typically moves forward as the baby grows. This can lead to being unbalanced, which can wreak havoc on your back. You don’t want to lean back when you are pregnant. Instead, you want to practice good posture, which you can do by:

  • Walk straight and stand tall.
  • Don’t lock your knees.
  • Use chairs that have back support.
  • Do not use a pillow to support your back.
  • Keep your shoulders back.
  • Lift your chest high.
  • If standing for long periods of time, take breaks.

5. See a chiropractor.

A chiropractor can align your spine and help you prevent your muscles from straining. They will also crack your back. If you are experiencing back pain and want instant relief, then you should schedule an appointment with a chiropractor.

6. Continue being active.

Continue with your physical activities and if you are given the clearance, then do fitness activities on a regular basis. Exercising can be very beneficial for pregnant women but do steer clear of lifting heavy weights.

Ideally, you should do a bit of yoga and light stretching. Generally speaking, whatever you were doing before you were pregnant, you should be able to continue doing.

7. The cold and heat method

You can ease back pain by using heat and cold. Before you do this, make sure you get your doctor’s permission. One way to do this is to put a bag of frozen veggies inside a towel and put it on your back. Let it sit there for up to 30 minutes before removing it.

After a few days, you’ll want to apply heat. Simply use a heating pad for a few minutes. Just make sure the heat is on low. Do this for a few days before going back to cold.

8. Use a support belt.

A support belt is worn when you want to keep your belly from placing too much weight on your back. Another benefit of support belts is that they will help you with your posture. Whether you’re standing or sitting, if you are wearing a support belt, then you shouldn’t feel too much back pain.

9. No more high heels

High heels might have been a staple in your wardrobe before you got pregnant, but they shouldn’t be now. They can cause you a lot of pain. Plus, they can contribute to muscle pain due to them causing imbalance. Instead of wearing high heels, you’ll want to wear flat shoes or ones that have a low heel.

10. Rest

While you are pregnant, there’s no need to be as active as you were prior to getting pregnant. In fact, sometimes resting is the best thing to do for yourself. More and more people are realizing how important rest really is during pregnancy.

11. Take a warm bath.

Soak in a warm bath or take a shower. Either one can help ease muscle pain. Instead of turning to medication when you are in pain, try to take a warm shower or bath.

What Can You Use besides Icy Hot While Pregnant?

The people who make Icy Hot warns that women who think they might be pregnant or are pregnant shouldn’t use the product. They recommend seeking their healthcare professional’s advice before using Icy Hot. This means you should not assume it’s ok to use Icy Hot, and you should get permission from your doctor.

Vicks VapoRub is a product that is similar to Icy Hot. The product is safe for both nursing women and pregnant women. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about Vicks causing unwanted side effects or harm.

Another product that is a safe alternative to Icy Hot is JR Watkins Ointment. This product is considered safe to use and it will provide you with similar effects that Icy Hot provides you. Before you use this ointment, it is a good idea to see your doctor and ask them if it’s ok to use it.

What Happens If Pain Doesn’t Go Away

If you try all of the above and you’re still experiencing pain, then you need to see your doctor. There is a chance you are experiencing rare pains. This means you’ll need to receive professional treatment.

However, do note that you’ll likely feel more pain during the end of the third trimester. If the pain becomes unbearable, then you’ll want to seek professional help. Call your doctor and let them know what is going on and they’ll let you know what the next step will be.

Conclusion

Throughout your pregnancy, you will experience pains and aches. This is actually normal, but sometimes the pain can become overwhelming and too much to handle. Don’t automatically reach for Icy Hot, nor should you reach for other types of medication.

Icy Hot can cause potential damage to the baby and you. As previously mentioned, there are many options you can turn to besides Icy Hot and medications. If you believe nothing is helping, then go and see your doctor.

Icy Hot can be effective for pain relief, but Icy Hot pregnant can be dangerous. It is better to be safe than sorry, so do yourself a favor and stay away from it while you are pregnant. The last thing you want to do is take Icy Hot and suffer from unwanted side effects.

Good luck with your pregnancy and remember to try the previously discussed options if you want to get back pain relief. Some of them may work, while others might not be that effective. Nonetheless, it’s still worth trying all of those methods to see what works, what doesn’t, and what ways you should stick with.

References

  1. Icy Hot Ointment: Side Effects. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-61399/icy-hot-topical/details
  2. Is Icy Hot Safe to Use During Pregnancy? https://www.reference.com/health/icy-hot-safe-use-during-pregnancy-b21047c08e3aaddf
  3. Icy Hot Advanced Relief. https://www.drugs.com/cdi/icy-hot-advanced-relief.html
  4. Icy Hot FAQs. https://www.icyhot.com/faqs/

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