There are a number of types of menthol ointment. Menthol is a product that is derived from mint oil or made synthetically. It has various medicinal properties that make it a useful component of ointments.
One of the most popular uses of menthol is in analgesic creams or gels used to treat pain from arthritis or other conditions. The menthol ointment is rubbed on the area of the body that is experiencing pain. Individuals often target muscle aches and strains with this type of ointment. It is important that individuals avoid using a heating pad on the areas that have menthol ointment applied, as serious complications can result. The ointment should also never be applied to damaged or cut skin.
Another type of menthol ointment is decongestant ointment. Traditionally, the ointment is usually rubbed onto the chest or under the nose. This gives the feeling of clearing the nasal passages without actually doing so and allows for easier breathing. It is now believed that menthol decongestant ointment should not be used on children, especially toddlers, as it can cause complications such as respiratory infection. Adults are also now advised against applying the ointment under the nose.
Menthol is also used in ointments to relieve itching skin and shampoos to ease discomfort from dry scalp and dandruff. Another use of menthol is in shaving creams. The menthol provides a pleasant cooling sensation, which makes it easier to tolerate shaving.
Individuals may also apply menthol ointment to chapped lips, cold sores or severely dry skin. Those who participate in winter sports or spend a lot of time in the sun during summer may use it for windburn or sunburn. Those injured by insect bites or bee stings may also find relief by applying the ointment to the affected area.
Sometimes menthol ointment is delivered through a patch or sleeve rather than directly rubbed on the affected body part. The patch or sleeve has the advantage of administering the medication over a period of time. For large areas of the skin, it may also be easier and more convenient to use a sleeve than to rub on the ointment. As with the ointment, the patch or sleeve should always be applied to clean, dry skin that has no wounds.
Frequently, menthol ointment contains complementary ingredients such as capsaicin or camphor. Capsaicin is often combined with menthol to make anti-itching or analgesic ointment. Camphor may be added to menthol decongestant ointment since camphor has decongestant properties.