Regardless of whether you are a runner, an elderly person suffering from arthritis or a construction worker, chances are that if you are active or ailing, you have used a topical pain reliever to soothe your sore joints or muscles. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration recently warned consumers that topically applied pain relievers are potentially a dangerous product.

Essentially, pain relievers applied to the skin can cause mild to serious burns, blistering and other skin injuries in some patients. Pain relievers reported to the FDA include those sold under the brand names Icy Hot, Capzasin, Bengay, Metholatum and Flexall. Some burns were severe enough to warrant hospitalization.

Unfortunately, there is no specific “kind” of patient who may be affected by topical pain relievers in this way. As a result, it is nearly impossible to predict who will suffer injury after application and who will not.

However, the products being reported do share a common characteristic that patients can look out for and avoid. Each topical pain reliever causing these hazardous reactions contains either more than 10 percent of methyl salicylate or over three percent of menthol.

In addition, consumers who wish to keep using these products should heed the FDA’s warning to avoid application on broken, damaged or irritated skin. The FDA also warns consumers to not apply any additional heat to the affected area, to not cover the medicated area with bandages and to immediately seek medical attention if you blister or suffer any burning pain.

These products have been on the market for some time, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be approached with caution.

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