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What Is In Your Topical Pain Medication?

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Topical medications are rising in popularity among those who need chronic pain treatment. They are an excellent option for those who cannot swallow pills. They are also a great way to reduce pain from injections and during surgery. With many new drugs on the market, it is important to know what is in your topical pain medication to determine if it is right for you.

Topical Pain Medication Ingredients

The most common ingredients in topical pain medication include camphor, capsaicin derived from chili peppers, menthol, and methyl salicylate, or oil of wintergreen. Most topical pain medications work by providing a heating or cooling affect the sensitive area, which reduces the sensation of pain. Topical pain medications that contain capsicum and methyl salicylate are known to heat up the area while menthol provides a cooling effect through ingredients that are known as counter-irritants.


Counter-irritants work by stimulating the nerves of the infected area to create a milder sensation. In other words, cooling types of medication distract you from the pain by introducing you to a new, more pleasant sensation. Some research suggests that cooling ingredients work by increasing blood flow to the area.

Pain Reliving Powders

In addition to topical pain medications, powders are also available. Commonly known brands that can be purchased without a prescription include Goody’s, which contains aspirin, caffeine, and acetaminophen, and UrgentRx Ache and Pain, which contains caffeine and aspirin. Powders can be applied topically to the tongue and needs to be chased with a liquid while others do not require a liquid chaser. 


Powders are designed to treat headaches, pains and aches, and other ailments. They have been known to work faster than medications that come in tablet forms because they do not need to be digested in the stomach. However, powders are considered messier than topical creams; therefore, they may be less desirable.

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