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The Difference Between Medicated and Non-Medicated Heat Patches

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Heat patches are adhesive patches that come in different shapes and sizes manufactured to produce heat to relieve body aches. Different heat patches may be made for different body parts such as the lower back and shoulders. If you are intending to get a heat patch, you may come across medicated and non-medicated patches. Most people think that medicated heat patches will definitely work better because after all, it is medicated right? Wrong. It is not completely true that a medicated heat patch will definitely work better for you when comparing to a non-medicated one. Find out why below!

1. The way heat is released

capsicum heat release

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Most non-medicated heat patches release heat naturally through exothermic reactions. These exothermic reactions usually occur when the natural ingredients inside the heat patch comes in contact with air. On the other hand, medicated heat patches use a medication called capsaicin instead. Capsaicin is extracted from capsicums which creates a burning heat sensation in tissues upon contact. It’s not real heat.

2. Skin sensitivity

Itchy Gif Heat Patches Skin Sensitivity

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As some people may be allergic to the chemical components in medicated heat patches, non-medicated heat patches tend to be safer for those with sensitive skin or skin allergies. However, this is not to say that non-medicated heat patches are 100% safe for people with skin issues as it is really dependent on the individual’s skin condition. However by simply comparing the two, non-medicated heat patches are safer compared to medicated heat patches for people with sensitive skin.

3. Pregnancy use

Pregnant Mum Heat Patches Use

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Most pregnant women suffer from back pains, so it is common for them to use microwavable or electric heat packs to relieve the pain. However, as such microwavable/electric heat packs are inconvenient for daily use, heat patches like BackHeat are the next best alternative for them. Medicated heat patches may contain ibuprofen or any other anti-inflammatory gels which may cause harm to the baby. Hence, non-medicated heat patches are a better option for pregnant women. However, it is best to bring the non-medicated heat patch to your gynaecologist to check if it is safe for use during pregnancy.

4. Smell

Lavender Gif Smell Heat Patches

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Medicated heat patches tend to have a strong smell due to the chemical components (aromatics) contained within the patch. Although there are people who do favour the smell of medicated heat patches but there are quite a number who do not like the smell too. As such, some may avoid using medicated heat patches in public as it may make others feel uncomfortable. Non-medicated heat patches are usually odourless and this allows for convenient and discreet use in public. For some non-medicated heat patches, they may be scented to give off more likeable scents such as lavender. These scents can provide a calming effect on the user too!


We hope that this article has been useful in learning more about medicated and non-medicated heat patches. If you have tried either of these heat patches, let us know about your experience and whether they worked well for you!


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