Bengay is a topical product that may temporarily ease arthritis pain. Its active ingredients include menthol, which creates a cooling sensation and helps dilate blood vessels, which can help soothe pain.

In this article, we will discuss how Bengay helps arthritis pain, how to use it, alternatives, and more.

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Bengay is a topical product, which means a person applies it to the skin. It is available as a cream, gel, or patch. Bengay is a brand name, and many other brands of topical analgesics are available.

The active ingredient in many Bengay products is menthol, which provides a cool sensation followed by a warm sensation on the skin. Some products also contain the topical analgesics camphor, methyl salicylate, and lidocaine.

The ingredients in Bengay numb the skin, allowing temporary relief of minor arthritis and muscle pain.

A person can choose different formulations of Bengay, such as ultra strength, greaseless, and vanishing scent.

A person can use analgesic creams such as Bengay to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains. A 2016 study found that applying topical analgesics containing menthol, one of the active ingredients in Bengay, improves skin blood flow.

Menthol is a counter-irritant, which activates nociceptors on the skin before desensitizing them. The cooling or warming sensation of counter-irritants distracts a person from minor pain.

Menthol also helps open or dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow. Increasing blood flow allows muscles to receive oxygen and nutrients more easily, which may help ease pain.

In a 2017 study, participants could feel the cooling sensation of menthol 5–60 minutes after applying it to their skin. The researchers reported that skin blood vessels dilated for 15–45 minutes after application before returning to normal after 60 minutes.

Find more arthritis resources here.

Various topical products may help ease arthritis pain. They may be more effective for some people than others, and a person may need to try a few before finding one that helps. The Arthritis Foundation (AF) list the following types of topical analgesics:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): People with mild to moderate arthritis pain may find relief from over-the-counter (OTC) topical NSAID creams and gels. They may not be as effective as oral medications, though they are less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues or liver damage. Ibuprofen and ketoprofen gels may be the most effective.
  • Salicylates: These are available as OTC ointments and contain the same pain-relieving ingredient that is in aspirin. A person should talk with their doctor before using salicylate products, particularly if they have an aspirin allergy or take blood-thinning medication for heart disease.
  • Lidocaine: This creates a numbing sensation by blocking pain signals at the nerve endings. Lidocaine is an ingredient in patches, creams, and ointments.
  • Capsaicin: Capsaicin is the substance in chili peppers that makes them hot. Products containing capsaicin create a tingling, burning sensation and block pain signals to the nerves. A person should wash their hands thoroughly after use. If a person uses capsaicin cream to treat hand arthritis pain, they should avoid washing their hands for 30 minutes.
  • CBD: There is little research into the effectiveness of topical CBD for pain relief. However, ongoing research reports promising results and many people report finding relief from topical CBD.

Learn more about arthritis creams here.

A person should read the box instructions carefully before using any medicated product.

Topical analgesics are only for the skin. Do not touch or apply products near the eyes, mouth, nose or genitals. If this happens, rinse with lots of water. People who wear contact lenses should wash their hands thoroughly before applying.

Read the box instructions for the recommended frequency and quantity of topical analgesic. For example, the drug label for Bengay Ultra Strength Non-greasy cream states that adults and children over 12 can rub a small amount onto the affected area no more than 3–4 times daily.

A person should read the box instructions carefully and follow the product safety information. The following information is from the drug label for Bengay Ultra Strength Non-greasy cream. It may or may not apply to other topical analgesic products:

  • Do not use topical analgesic products on wounds or broken skin, with a heating pad, or on children under 12.
  • Avoid wrapping bandages tightly over the treated area.
  • Wash the hands before and after applying the product. Avoid touching the eyes or mucus membranes with the product on the hands.
  • Use the product no more than four times per day.
  • Do not use a topical analgesic on broken skin.
  • Stop using the product if it causes skin irritation.
  • Keep topical analgesics out of the reach of children.

There are various medications to treat arthritis pain. A doctor will prescribe medications depending on the type and severity of a person’s arthritis. Medications include:

Learn more about medication for arthritis pain here.

According to the AF, side effects of topical analgesics are uncommon and usually mild.

Redness, warmth, stinging, or burning on the skin may occur. A person should stop using the product and contact a doctor if:

  • skin changes worsen and last for 7 days or more
  • symptoms clear up then reoccur a few days later
  • there is excessive skin irritation

If a person accidentally swallows a topical analgesic, they should get medical help or contact the Poison Control Center immediately. Poison Control can be reached at (800) 222-1222 or through their website.

Topical products can relieve mild to moderate arthritis pain. However, the effects are temporary. A person can use these products as part of a wider treatment program that includes prescribed and OTC medications, lifestyle choices, home remedies, and complementary therapies.

Bengay is a brand name for a group of products that includes topical analgesic creams, gels, and patches.

The active ingredients in topical analgesics include menthol, salicylates, and camphor, which create a cooling or warming sensation on the skin. This sensation can distract a person from mild to moderate pain. Menthol also helps dilate skin blood vessels to improve blood flow and decrease pain.

There are many topical products available to help ease arthritis pain. People can use topical products alongside prescription medications, home remedies, and complementary treatments.