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When you’re breastfeeding, you have to be careful about any type of medications you use, including over-the-counter medications and even topical products. Some products have to be avoided both when you’re pregnant and when you’re breastfeeding, but not all of them are like this. If you’re curious about what pain medication is safe while breastfeeding your baby, you should know that when it comes to Icy Hot, you can use the product with certain exceptions.


What Is Icy Hot?

Icy Hot is a pain medication that is rubbed into the skin. The product has eight different formulas in its 14 OTC products, and it works by chilling the pain and then using heat to cure it. It’s been around since the early 1970s and is still one of the most popular pain-relief medications on the market. Some of the ingredients used in Icy Hot products include lidocaine, menthol, and camphor.

You can use Icy Hot for numerous types of pain, including:

  • Achy joints
  • Sprains
  • Arthritis pain
  • Sore muscles
  • Cramps
  • Bruises

Icy Hot also comes in many different forms, including various types of patches, sprays, gels, and creams. All of them recommend that nursing mothers ask their doctor if they can use the product, which is a great suggestion. Why? Because while it’s been proven that Icy Hot shouldn’t be used while you’re pregnant, the jury is still out on whether or not Icy Hot affects the baby when you’re breastfeeding.


Using Icy Hot While You’re Breastfeeding

For the most part, you can use Icy Hot products while breastfeeding if you use them on certain parts of the body, such as your neck and shoulders or even your legs. You should not, however, apply the product on your breasts or chest, especially if it’s anywhere near the baby. To date, it is unclear whether Icy Hot penetrates into the breast milk, so it’s best not to apply it anywhere near the chest area.

One of the reasons for caution is an ingredient called methyl salicylate. This ingredient should be avoided altogether if at all possible, which means you should read the labels before trying any Icy Hot product. It can be harmful if absorbed into the skin and can even irritate the skin, your eyes, and even your upper respiratory tract.

If the only Icy Hot products that you find in the store are those containing methyl salicylate, it’s best if you find a similar product that doesn’t have this ingredient in it. It also matters what type of Icy Hot you buy, because when it comes to Icy Hot Lidocaine use while breastfeeding, your reaction may be entirely different if you use the Icy Hot Max product.


Different Side Effects for Different Products

If you’re in pain and you’re looking for safe medications you can take while pregnant or breastfeeding, keep in mind that Icy Hot should not be used in pregnancy but is sometimes safe when breastfeeding, as long as you follow a few simple rules.

When you’re using a product with lidocaine, for example, remember that lidocaine is usually in your system for up to 60 minutes, which isn’t bad. That being said, the Icy Hot lidocaine patch is usually worn for up to 12 hours, which means that you’ll continue to absorb lidocaine as long as you’re wearing the patch.

The same rules apply to Icy Hot Max Pain Relief use while breastfeeding because it, too, contains lidocaine, and since this is a product meant for extreme pain, it can have more lidocaine in it than other Icy Hot products do, along with other drugs that might be able to pass through to the breast milk.

There are two main rules to remember when you want to use any Icy Hot product for your pain and soreness. First, you should learn to read the labels on the product to make sure that there is nothing in there -- or no large quantities of certain components -- that can have a negative effect on either you or the baby. Second, you still need to check with your doctor before you use this or any other type of product meant for pain relief.


What About Other Pain Medications?

Being in pain is no fun, especially when you’re nursing, but if you’re wondering about medications safe for breastfeeding moms, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Most doctors agree that ibuprofen is the only safe anti-inflammatory NSAID medication for nursing moms
  • Avoid codeine when you’re breastfeeding
  • Oxycodone is preferred over hydrocodone because the latter can make infants overly sleepy
  • If your baby has any type of heart condition, you’ll have to ask your doctor what you can and cannot take

If you’re curious about a cold medicine safe for breastfeeding, the following tips are important:

  • You should only take ibuprofen and acetaminophen for pain
  • Never take any antihistamine that isn’t a non-drowsy formula
  • Do not take products such as expectorants, aspirin, or cough suppressants

Regardless of what you decide to take, even if it’s on the “approved” list, your doctor needs to be consulted first since each patient is different.



Icy Hot is an effective, inexpensive, and overall safe product to use, but it should not be used while you’re pregnant and should be used with caution when you’re breastfeeding. Regardless of your specific situation, you need to check with your doctor before using any Icy Hot product, especially if it has methyl salicylate or lidocaine in it, which most of them do.

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