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How Do I Choose the Best Ibuprofen Gel?

By Kristeen Moore
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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Ibuprofen gel is the topical version of the popular oral pain medication. This type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in the gel version is sometimes an effective spot treatment for pain related to arthritis and muscle aches. Topical ibuprofen is sold in different forms in drug stores, and other versions contain natural ingredients that are marketed as being safer for consumers. The best type of ibuprofen gel that you ultimately choose depends on the specific condition for which you are using the product, as well as the amount that you need. Topical NSAIDs should not be taken in conjunction with ibuprofen gel capsules or tablets.

Over-the-counter pain medications are still the leading source of treating minor aches as well as fever. Ibuprofen is often chosen over acetaminophen because it carries less of a risk of liver problems. This particular pain medication works by decreasing hormones within the body that causes a particular type of pain. Ibuprofen gel is sometimes a preferred version of the pain reliever because it can penetrate a specific area of pain without the medication being processed through the liver first.

Topical pain relievers are becoming more prevalent on the market as consumers are looking for fast and safe methods of treatment for various conditions. Ibuprofen gel is most often used to treat joint and muscle pain, as well as for menstrual cramps. As with the oral form of the drug, the gel is typically applied to the affected area every four to eight hours.

The most reliable forms of ibuprofen gel are labeled as containing the active NSAID. These products are most commonly sold in drugstores as well as supermarket chains, although some consumers who use the product often to treat sports injuries opt to purchase gels in bulk online. When looking for an ibuprofen gel, it is important to look at all ingredient labels, as some natural products are labeled as being as effective as the NSAID, but they do not actually contain the drug.

Another consideration is choosing the correct amount of medication that you actually need. Gel versions of ibuprofen tend to have shorter shelf lives compared to tablet versions, so you do not want to purchase too much if you are treating a temporary ailment. It is also important to bear in mind that using topical ibuprofen over a long period of time can cause adverse health effects, so you might want to discontinue using the product if your symptoms do not improve.

All ibuprofen products can be just as powerful as the next, so it is important to remember that you should not take more than one type at a time. If a particular ibuprofen gel is not effective at treating your pain, you might consider talking with your physician before moving onto another medication. Taking topical ibuprofen at the same time as an oral version can lead to a drug overdose, which can also cause headache, dizziness, and abdominal pain. Pregnant women should not use any form of ibuprofen unless directed to do so by a doctor.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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