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The Science Behind Icy Hot: How Does It Work?

Chronic pain is sweeping across the United States. 20.4% of American adults experienced chronic pain in 2019, with 7.4% of adults having pain that impacted their work and life activities. You can purchase thousands of pain-relieving products, but some don’t work, and others have strong side effects. 

Millions of Americans use Icy Hot products as quick pain relievers. Yet many people don’t ask about their active ingredients or why they work. Understand how Icy Hot works, and you can combat chronic pain for years. Here is your guide to Icy Hot’s active ingredients and potential uses. 

a close up of menthol leaves


Menthol is one of the main ingredients in all Icy Hot products; Icy Hot Balm contains 7.6% menthol, while Icy Hot No Mess contains 16%. It is a chemical derived from peppermint oil that makes your skin feel cool. It cannot cure the underlying cause of your pain or give you long-term relief, but it can relieve minor pain feeling for short periods, including after exercise.

In addition to Icy Hot, menthol is an active ingredient in numerous pain-relieving products, including BioFreeze and Flexall. Many of these products use synthetic menthol derived from chemicals, not pure peppermint oil, but synthetic menthol has the same effects as natural menthol. You can use menthol and other peppermint oil products with a peppermint CBD tincture for long-term relief. 

Methyl Salicylate

Methyl salicylate is the other active ingredient in Icy Hot. It is an organic compound made from menthol and salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a hormone that many plants make, including white willow and tobacco, and it is an active ingredient in aspirin and other medicines. Combined with menthol, it can soothe joint, muscle, and skin pain. 

Methyl salicylate also creates a warming sensation when applied directly to the skin. The warming effect can distract you from your pain, relieve stiffness, and make you more mobile. Icy Hot sticks and cream contain 30% methyl salicylate, so you should select these products if you want a strong warming effect.

Salicylate can create an allergic reaction. If you have an allergy to aspirin, you should talk to your doctor, as you may also have an allergy to salicylate.


Camphor is a chemical that camphor laurel and kapur trees naturally produce in their bark. Camphor laurel and kapur trees grow in East Asia, and East Asian communities have used camphor as a traditional medicine for pain and inflammation for centuries. It is now a popular ingredient in creams and topical medications, as it can relieve itching and skin irritation in addition to joint pain. 

Camphor works by stimulating the nerve endings sensitive to temperature. If you apply it vigorously to your skin, you will feel warm, which can soothe muscle and joint pain. But if you rub it gently, you will feel cool, which can soothe skin pain and acne. 

Not all products contain camphor. Icy Hot sticks and cream do not have it, but Icy Hot PRO Dry Spray contains 11% camphor. Icy Hot recommends using its PRO Dry Spray if you’re experiencing aching joints and muscles and need help reaching hard-to-reach places. 

Do you have questions about all-natural pain relievers? Contact the team at Triple Crown Organics, and we’ll help you get started on the best products with camphor and other ingredients.


Lidocaine is an anesthetic agent that doctors use for local and topical anesthesia. It can block signals at your nerve endings, preventing you from experiencing severe pain in your joints, skin, and muscles. Some doctors use lidocaine by itself to treat pain, but you can find it in numerous products, including Xylocaine. 

You can find lidocaine in many Icy Hot products, though lidocaine is most prominent in Icy Hot Lidocaine Cream, which has 4% lidocaine. Icy Hot recommends using the cream for joint, arm, leg, and back pain, though you can also use it for neck strains and aches. You can use Full Spectrum CBD Pain Cream while using lidocaine, but you should not apply both creams simultaneously.


Capsaicin is a chemical that many chili peppers produce, creating a pungent taste and a strong odor. When applied to your skin, it creates a burning sensation, which can be uncomfortable in large amounts but can relieve muscle, nerve, and arthritis pain. The burning sensation can feel warm and relieving, especially when combined with other active ingredients. It can also block nerve signals, reducing the discomfort you feel after exercise or straining your muscles. 

Icy Hot uses capsaicin in some of its patches. Some people experience a very strong burning sensation or itching while wearing the patches, so use them sparingly. You can buy creams with small amounts of capsaicin in them, which are suitable for joint and skin pain. 


Cannabidiol (CBD) is not found in Icy Hot products, but it can be an effective pain reliever. A 2022 meta-analysis of 12 studies found that CBD is an excellent alternative to opioids for chronic pain. You can combine CBD with menthol and other ingredients to create a strong pain reliever with cooling and heating effects similar to conventional Icy Hot products. 

Full Spectrum Icy Hot CBD Sports Lotion contains CBD oil with camphor, menthol, organic turmeric, and other natural ingredients. The lotion is great for joint and muscle soreness, including after workouts. CBD has no significant side effects, so you can use your lotion whenever you need it. 

Related: CBD for Muscle Recovery


Icy Hot products do not cause significant side effects. Taking active ingredients by themselves can lead to issues like skin irritation or numbness, but you should not experience any problems while using creams, sprays, or sticks. 

However, you should follow the instructions for each Icy Hot product carefully. You should only use your products as the labels direct you to use them. 

Never apply Icy Hot products onto open wounds or damaged skin. The products can interfere with the healing process and cause pain and irritation, even in small amounts. Do not place any Icy Hot product underneath a bandage, though it’s okay to wear loose clothes over a spray or lotion. 

Some people try to magnify the heating or cooling effects of Icy Hot by using a heating pad or placing their skin in cold water. A heating pad can make your skin feel too hot, and water can wash the spray or cream away. You should also avoid placing any treated areas in direct sunlight, as the heat can intensify the effects of capsaicin. 

Wash your hands before using any products. Dirt, oil, and chemicals on your fingers can make your products less effective or wash creams and lotions away. You should also wash your hands after using Icy Hot, especially if you are going to insert contact lenses or eat. 

Are you looking for all-natural pain relievers you can use throughout your day? Purchase pain-relieving CBD products from Triple Crown Organics now.

a man stretching outdoors


Uses for Icy Hot

Icy Hot’s active ingredients do not penetrate deep into the body. They can affect your nerve receptors and skin cells, but they do not work on deep muscle or spinal cord pain. The effects of Icy Hot are best for aches and soreness after exercise or lifting heavy furniture. You can also use Icy Hot for bruises and muscle cramps after waking up in the morning. 

Some people with arthritis or chronic pain use Icy Hot as a temporary pain reliever. However, no Icy Hot product can cure these conditions or offer effective long-term relief. You must use products in conjunction with physical therapy, prescriptions, and other pain-relieving products for long-term effects. Turmeric has strong benefits for men, and you can consume turmeric tea or curries while using Icy Hot.

Related: Natural Remedies for Old Age

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