Topical ointments are commonly used for irritated skin as well as muscle pain. Most of them may be purchased over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. Topical ointments are non-invasive, meaning they are used on the skin. There are several types of topical ointments including analgesic ointments, anti-inflammatory ointments and anti-infective ointments, such as those that treat superficial infections of the skin like irritated areas and surface cuts.
Topical analgesic ointments soothe muscle pain by their cooling sensation and then warming effect. These ointments have salicylate as a main ingredient (the pain reliever in aspirin), and menthol. As the ointment is rubbed on, it penetrates the skin and relaxes the muscles. These types of ointments—which include Ben Gay, Sportscreme, Mobisyl and Aspercreme—may be purchased over the counter. A heating pad should never be used along with the use of a menthol cream, as a burn may result. Persistent pain requires a doctor’s attention. Side effects may include pain, blisters, change in skin color and dizziness.
Anti-inflammatory ointments such as hydrocortisone may be purchased over the counter. These types of ointments are used for skin irritations such as rashes and bug bites. These medications include brand names such as Dermarest, Hydrozone Plus, Gly-Cort, IvyStat, Scalpcort, U-Cort, Preparation H Hydrocostisone, and Recort Plus. These ointments may rarely cause side effects including blood blisters, infection, easy bruising, itching skin, red skin, numbness in the fingers and others.
Anti-infective ointments such as Bacitracin and Triple Antibiotic Ointment can be purchased without a prescription. These types of ointments give protection to the skin’s surface by adding an anti-infective treatment to protect against infection along with the soothing component of the ointment itself. Side effects may include swelling or irritation where the ointment was applied.
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