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Recalled Icy Hot Patch: Burning Questions

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Chattanooga, TNThe TV ads featuring Shaquille O'Neal made the Icy Hot Pain patches look slick and convenient. "For pain across your whole back, Icy Hot has it covered." And why not? Rather than struggle with creams and ointments, the simple application of a patch, which initially provides a cooling sensation, followed by soothing heat, sounds blissfully easy. Unfortunately, it is alleged to have also given people blisters, and even burns.

The manufacturer of Icy Hot, Chattem Inc. issued a nationwide voluntary recall of the Icy Hot Heat Therapy patches in February, due to reports of first, second and third-degree burns and various other skin irritations from using the product. Skin irritations, and burns serious enough to warrant immediate medical intervention.

Back PainAccording to a burn clinic nurse who commented to a TV news crew from WXIA '11 Alive' in Atlanta, the burn first presents as sunburn, then becomes a partial thickness injury when it rises up in a blister, or sheds the top layer of skin.

The Icy Hot patch works via chemical reaction, with the active ingredient listed as Menthol 5 per cent. There are, it is reported, various warnings on the package label, such as avoiding the urge to heat, or microwave the product. People over 55 years of age, or diabetics should not use the product, or anyone with any kind of skin irritation. People with delayed sensation, or limited sensation for whatever reason, are warned against using the patch, the nurse said.

It has been reported that the Icy Hot patch was not designed to be used for any more than eight hours in a 24-hour period on a particular area, and that package directions warn against using the product during sleep. However, a document that looks very much like a product label on the web site under a 'drug facts' and 'Icy Hot Patch' link and is meant for medical professionals, appears somewhat misleading.

The document appears to be a scanned label, containing the heading 'Drug Facts.' There is also, lower down, a summary of information under the header 'Directions' for adults and children over 12 years. Here, the text recommends applying one patch to the affected area, and to wear one Icy Hot Patch up to eight hours.

However, within the directions that appear on-line include, in text located right below, appears the statement "repeat as necessary, but no more than four times daily."

The actual packaging label notwithstanding, this on-line label might leave an individual suffering from chronic pain with the impression four patches could be worn, for eight hours each, concurrently. In other words, 'round the clock'.

It is not known if the label image represented on the Icy Hot web site is an actual product label, or a facsimile. It has been reported that the product label also cautions against sleep with a patch in place, lest a user sleep through the eight-hour limit or not feel any pain or discomfort coming from the patch associated with the affected area while sleeping.

There appeared to be no mention of the sleep issue on the web site, although the product label may have contained more thorough information. However, any consumer having misplaced the package directions, or seeking the very latest information might be forgiven for checking on-line, in a day and age viewed by many as the most up-to-date source for information.

There is no other information on the Icy Hot web page. A link to the Chattem web site yields information on the recall, but little else. A link to an Icy Hot Patch page for frequently asked questions yields little more than a notation that the hosts are still preparing content, and to 'please check back again.'

Prior to the recall, there were 200 reports of burns, some serious. Icy Hot patches are recommended for adults and children over 12. For children under 12, the manufacturer recommends parents consult with a physician before using the patch.

Individuals who have suffered burns or a serious skin irritation at the hands of an Icy Hot patch should keep the injured area cool and wet. No ice, or butter, or oils, or toothpaste. Burn experts advise to keep the patient warm and dry, while seeking immediate medical attention.

It should be noted that the skin is one of the most underrated, and misunderstood organs of the human body. Any injury to the skin should not be taken lightly, and a serious burn could have serious health consequences.

In the end, the consumer's first source for product information is the packaging label itself. However, information on the manufacturer's web site, and product web page, appears to be either inadequate, or misleading.

It can only be hoped that a consumer has not suffered a serious burn, due to lack of information.



Posted by

I was a person who ended up with deep 2nd degree burns, over time that got infected, I ended up seeing Doctors at the U of Michigan burn clinic, spending 6 days in the hospital lost almost 3 weeks off from work. I actually had 2 icy hot patches one on each side of my back.... one did just fine and the other did a lot of burning.


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