Muscle aches and body pains come and go, especially as you get older. If you happen to experience these aches from time to time, the best way to relieve them is to apply some pain relief ointments or creams on the affected areas.
If you’re looking for the best pain topical relief creams, then you’ll most likely stumble upon two popular options: Icy Hot and Biofreeze. The great thing about these two topical creams is that they’re very effective for both light and heavy aches.
The big question is: which of them is the better option?
In order to know that, we must first break these products down to their core. By doing this, we’ll be able to know the features and benefits of each one. From there, you can easily determine which product is superior over the other.
Without further ado, let’s pit Biofreeze vs Icy Hot. But before that, let’s first understand how topical pain creams work.
How Do Topical Pain Creams Work?
In a nutshell, topical pain creams contain an active ingredient known as menthol. It’s a type of analgesic that can alter the brain’s nerve reactors. It can help tell the brain that there is not much pain in the affected area by cooling down the nerve fibers in the skin. Another cool thing about this ingredient is that it rapidly penetrates the skin to reach the nerve fibers right away. That’s why applying it on your muscles can give you this sense of pain relief that works really fast. This can effectively relieve pain from arthritis, muscle spasms, and the like.
In general, both brands pretty much use the same active ingredients. As mentioned above, pain creams use menthol as their active ingredient, but its percentage may differ per brand. For instance, Biofreeze used only 4% menthol in its formulation. The rest of the ingredients are inactive ingredients that give it its smell and texture. Some of them include the following:
These are also some of the ingredients that give it its gel substance.
On the other hand, Icy Hot has a higher percentage of menthol. It comes with 10% menthol along with 30% methyl salicylate. Aside from these two ingredients, there are other inactive ingredients which are as follows:
This one, on the other hand, has inactive ingredients that give it its creamy texture.
That being said, its features are pretty much the same. As we’ve already discussed, the textures of both products are different. However, as far as the features go, Biofreeze makes use of cold therapy used for reducing blood flow while Icy Hot, as the name implies, makes use of both cold and hot therapy. It’s for this reason why Icy Hot tends to take effect a bit slower.
What are the Benefits of Biofreeze?
Biofreeze comes with a number of known benefits which are as follows:
What are the Benefits of Icy Hot?
On the other hand, the benefits of Icy Hot are as follows:
Biofreeze vs Icy Hot: The Similarities
In a general sense, these two products are very similar to each other. The two main similarities are that they both contain menthol and both are applied for the same types of injuries. As we mentioned above, menthol is the main and active ingredient of pain creams in general because it is effective in pain relief and works almost right away.
Some of the other minor similarities between the two include the smell and the look. Since they both contain menthol, they have this very minty smell. Aside from the smell, the look of the ointment or cream is pretty much the same.
Biofreeze is available in its ointment form which makes it clear and thick. Meanwhile, Icy Hot comes in various forms to choose from. Most people choose the cream form which is white and not as thick as the ointment. Other than that, it also comes in balm form and gel form as well as an Icy Hot back patch.
Biofreeze vs Icy Hot: The Differences
When it comes to differences, the menthol content for each product is very different. Icy Hot, in particular, has a higher percentage. However, Biofreeze happens to have more inactive ingredients than Icy Hot.
Another notable difference between the two products is the performance and efficacy. First of all, Biofreeze just has an icy sensation that can help reduce blood flow by using cold temperatures to slow down movement. On the other hand, Icy Hot makes use of both cold and hot feelings, so it’s pretty much the opposite. Instead of just slowing down blood flow, it will increase the blood circulation.
How to Apply Pain Relief Cream & Gel?
Applying both products is extremely easy. All you have to do is to put a thin layer of the pain relief cream or the gel on your first three fingers. After you place the topical pain relief cream or gel on your fingers, rub it on the affected area for around 2 to 3 minutes. This will allow the contents to seep into the skin and take effect. Make sure there is enough contact on the skin to make it more effective.
Now, there are a few things that you need to avoid when applying topical gel or cream on your sore area. First, don’t apply it to a skin area with an open wound or a rash. This may cause further irritation or even pain. Also, don’t put a heating pad or hot bottle over the area where you applied Biofreeze or Icy Hot because you’ll end up with a blister.
Next, don’t put a bandage over the gel or cream because it won’t perform at its best. You need to leave it exposed so that it can properly go into the skin. Another thing that you may want to avoid is getting the gel or cream anywhere near sensitive body parts such as your eyes, your ears, your nose, your mouth, and your genitals. Also, make sure you wash your hands after you use it, otherwise, you might accidentally put it somewhere you never intended to.
However, before you even apply it, we highly recommend that you first get approval from your doctor. The reason is that this kind of topical cream or gel seems to have some side effects on sensitive skin. If you’re not careful, you might actually suffer from some rashes or heightened sensitivity. You overall health is important, so you must also communicate with your doctor about how much you should apply because it might not be compatible with other topical creams or lotions that you may be using at the time being.
As a general rule, you must only apply this whenever you need to. There is no fixed number of times you should apply this to your affected area. However, you can’t apply it more than four times in one day, unless your doctor explicitly tells you so.
Biofreeze vs Icy Hot FAQs
Q: Is Biofreeze an anti-inflammatory?
We can’t really say that it is anti-inflammatory because it won’t reduce any inflammation. Apart from that, it doesn’t contain NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in its formulation. Rather, it just numbs the pain by applying cold temperature on the affected area pretty much like how an ice pack. So in a sense, it acts exactly like an ice pack, except that it works faster and longer.
Q: Can you use Biofreeze on sunburn?
We already mentioned in the previous section that it shouldn’t be applied to open wounds and rashes. In that sense, sunburns are rather similar to open wounds and rashes, so it’s better if you don’t apply it there since it may cause further skin irritation and pain.
Q: Does Icy Hot reduce inflammation?
Icy Hot, on the other hand, has some different effects on pain as compared to Biofreeze. Since it has both cold and hot sensations, it can also act as a hot pack. Take note that heat can reduce inflammation because it increases the blood circulation, making the tissues more flexible. With that in mind, Icy Hot can actually reduce inflammation.
Q: How long can Biofreeze last?
The effects of Biofreeze can linger for several hours depending on the type of product you’re using. This allows you to enjoy its pain-numbing benefits for an even longer time. On average, the Biofreeze cream can provide effects that can last for up to 5 hours after application. The same applies to its other products such as spray, gel, and roll-on.
The only exception to this is the Biofreeze Patch which is capable of lasting even longer. On average, you can expect its effect to last for up to 8 hours following an application.
Q: Is Biofreeze a muscle relaxer?
Since it treats the muscles, it actually relaxes it in a sense. In fact, it’s even used for massaging purposes. So yes, we can actually consider it as a muscle relaxer.
Q: How many times a day can you apply Biofreeze?
As we mentioned above, you should only use it as needed and not more than 4 times a day. Applying it more than 4 times a day is considered an overdose and may result in some skin irritation and sensitivity issues. You should only use it more than the prescribed number of times in a day if the doctor told you to.
Q: Can I use Biofreeze and Icy Hot together?
As much as possible, we don’t recommend using them together as they have different sets of ingredients that may not go well together. We always suggest that you consult your doctor first if you have any questions such as this.
Q: Can you leave Icy Hot on overnight?
Yes, you can actually leave it on overnight. You just have to make sure that you don’t wear a bandage when you apply this pain relief cream. Just leave it on and make sure you expose it to air. You can leave it while you sleep and let it dry until the morning.
Q: Does Biofreeze smell?
Yes, it has quite a strong smell but not an unpleasant one. Since it’s made mostly out of menthol, it smells pretty much like mint. It also has a very light smell compared to Icy Hot’s heavy scent.
Q: Why does Biofreeze work so well?
It works extremely well because it has a formulation that allows it to efficiently and effectively control pain. It also lasts for a very long time on the skin.
Q: Can I put Biofreeze on my face?
As we mentioned above, never put it near your eyes, your nose, your mouth, or your ears. With that in mind, do not put it on your face. Besides, you don’t really need to put it on your face simply because face muscles don’t really ache as bad as back muscles or knee joints.
Q: Is Biofreeze good for knee pain?
Yes, it is very good for knee pain. It can reduce your knee pain and also help relax your joints. That is why it is often the choice of pain relief medication for athletes.
Q: How much is Biofreeze at Walmart?
This really depends on which product you’re looking for. However, a bottle of 3 oz it costs around $11.98 in Walmart.
Q: Can you put Biofreeze on your forehead?
As we already stated above, do not put it anywhere near your face. You might accidentally get some of it in your eyes if you do. Applying it on your forehead while you’re sweating is even more dangerous because the sweat can cause the gel to go down to your eyes. This is something that you must always avoid.
Q: Can Biofreeze work for lower back pain?
Yes, it also works for lower back pain. You can ask a friend or family member to apply the topical gel on your lower back if you can’t reach it. Just like other muscle aches, your lower back pain will also subside.
Q: Does Biofreeze increase blood flow?
It doesn’t actually increase the blood flow in your sore muscles. Rather, it reduces the blood flow in order to ease the pain. However, the active ingredient increases blood circulation on the skin.
Q: How long does Biofreeze last on the skin?
Typically, Biofreeze can last on the skin for around 4 to 5 hours. Therefore, if you want instant pain relief that lasts for quite some time, it is a pretty good choice for a pain relief gel.
Also, its manufacturer pointed out that the product can induce its pain-numbing effects two times faster compared to other brands. This is thanks to its special proprietary formula that prompts its active ingredients to take effect a lot faster.
After giving you enough knowledge of both products and answering some of your lingering questions, we can now give you a verdict as to which one is the best to buy. When it comes to effectiveness, we can confidently say that Biofreeze performs much better than Icy Hot. It can last longer than Icy Hot, and it even has a much stronger formulation. Due to that, it’s often considered the best product that is widely used among chiropractors and physical therapists.
However, we do maintain our stance if we are comparing the performance and effectiveness of Biofreeze vs Icy Hot. As a product, we’d definitely say that Biofreeze provides better effects. But the product you should buy depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for performance and relief speed, Biofreeze is the product to buy. Meanwhile, if you’re on a tight budget and you want the benefits of a hot pack, buy Icy Hot instead.
To conclude, we believe that the best product to buy is subjective and based on your needs.