Bengay is a brand of muscle pain reliever that contains the active ingredients menthol and methyl salicylate. It comes in cream, gel or spray forms. The product must be used appropriately to avoid problems for both you and your baby. This means not using it on broken skin, following package directions carefully and not using it for a long time.
Having said that, there is no definitive information available about the safety of using Bengay while breastfeeding. It’s always possible that some of the product could be absorbed into your bloodstream and then passed along to your baby.
What is Bengay Ultra Strength?
Bengay is a pain relief cream. This menthol and methyl salicylate-based product is used to treat minor aches of the muscles/joints (such as arthritis, backache). Mentholmussalata works by causing you to feel cool on your skin before heating up; this distracts from deeper pains located in joints or tendons.
These over the counter or OTC topical creams give you temporary relief however it is unknown whether methyl salicylate topical passes into breast milk or whether it can affect a breastfeeding infant.
Be sure to carefully read the package labels on all products you use when breastfeeding. According to the manufacturer’s documentation, the maximum daily usage of Bengay in adults is up to 3.5 ounces (100 grams) per 24 hour period.
What are the ingredients in Bengay?
Bengay is made up of three active ingredients: Methyl Salicylate (10%) Menthol 2.6% Camphor 1.5%.
Methyl salicylate is a chemical that comes from wintergreen oil and it does have the potential to transfer into your milk supply but in very small amounts. If you are breastfeeding, do not apply methyl salicylate topical to your breasts or breast area as it would come into contact with the baby’s skin as you were breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding mothers should always consult their healthcare provider before using pain relievers. These creams should never be put in the breast area of nursing mothers. This includes any restricted substance like tiger balm which whilst generally safe they do have an active ingredient which causes a tingling sensation.
What about menthol and camphor?
The methyl salicylate in Bengay cream gets absorbed into the skin, while the other two ingredients menthol and camphor are considered to be safe for topical use because they don’tget absorbed very well through the skin.
While some studies have suggested that menthol and camphor can be somewhat quickly absorbed through the skin, the levels found in the blood were so low as to not be of any concern.
The FDA has given menthol a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) designation for use in food and cosmetics, which means it is safe for topical use.
Menthol and camphor are also listed as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) food additives by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, which means that they are found in foods at certain levels without any issues.
Bengay Bio Freeze Icy Hot
Icy Hot is not a controlled drug, and it is usually considered safe to use during pregnancy. The controversy surrounding Icy Hot stems from the fact that its chemicals can be absorbed into your circulation and transmitted into the fetus.
If you are suffering from muscle pain and need pain relief and have a nursing baby, it may be safer to use a heating pad for treatment rather than use bengay cold medicine. In general, muscle creams that have a warming effect on the skin are safer during pregnancy. These warmers use natural ingredients such as ginger and capsaicin to give you a warm feeling when applied.
What can I take for muscle pain while breastfeeding?
The following pain relievers are safe to take whilst nursing your baby.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others)
- Naproxen (Naprosyn) — short-term use only.
The Bottom Line on is Bengay Safe When Nursing?
Bengay is a pain relief cream that contains methyl salicylate, menthol, and camphor. These ingredients have been deemed safe for topical use but not when breastfeeding, but it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider before using any medication in the affected while breastfeeding. These drugs are ok to use when pregnant but ask your doctor about taking these medications when breastfeeding. A heat pad in the affected area is generally regarded to be better option for pain relievers as these would never pass into the breast milk.
This article was written by Sandra Baker – full time writer and the mother of four amazing kids (including twins!)
She’s also a breastfeeding counselor and has spent years helping new parents learn how to care for their children. When she’s not writing or caring for her children, Sandra likes to spend time reading and taking walks with her husband.