Can You Use Icy Hot As Lube Or For Anal Sex?

Icy Hot, Bengay, or other similar topical pain relievers, are NEVER safe to use as a personal lubricant for any sexual situation.
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Updated:July 2023

NO — Icy Hot should never be used as a lubricant during any sexual activity or circumstance because its ingredients are too irritating for genital use and the sensations it causes are far too intense for this purpose.

Here’s why:

  • Icy Hot is a topical analgesic (pain reliever) designed to soothe sore muscles by delivering an intense cooling and warming sensation upon application, however, the warnings on its label clearly state that cases of serious burns have been reported when using products of this type (such as Bengay).
  • Icy Hot is not meant to be used on mucus membranes (like the vagina or anus) because of the high risk of excessive skin irritation associated with the product.
  • Icy Hot’s active ingredients include menthol (10%) for cooling pain relief and methyl salicylate (30%) for a warming sensation — both of which are too harsh for use on the genitals or anus, even during external use (like masturbation of the penis or vulva).
  • Icy Hot is also not meant to be used internally or ingested so it cannot be used during penetrative or oral sex.

Icy Hot is not a safe lube alternative for any type of sex — ever.

Things To Know
In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using Icy Hot as a personal lubricant, including:

Can You Use Icy Hot As Lube?

No, you absolutely should not use Icy Hot as a personal lubricant for any type of sexual contact.

The same holds true for other products of a similar nature, such as Bengay (formerly known as Ben-Gay).

Here’s everything you need to know about using Icy Hot as lube:

  • As a topical analgesic for pain relief, Icy Hot soothes sore muscles through intense cooling and warming sensations that occur after it’s applied to the skin. While this is generally safe when used as directed (such as on the skin of the arms, legs, or back) the company warns that serious burns can occur with products of this type, even on areas where it is meant to be used.
  • Icy Hot also specifies that it is not meant to be used on mucus membranes (like the vagina or anus) because there is such a high risk of skin irritation associated with its use.
  • Icy Hot’s active ingredients include menthol (10%) for cooling pain relief and methyl salicylate (30%) for creating a sensation of warmth — both of which are too harsh for use on the genitals or anus, even during external use (like masturbation of the penis or vulva). Doing so can lead to intense irritation and put you at risk for infection.
  • Icy Hot is also not meant to be used internally nor ingested — for this reason, it cannot be used during penetrative or oral sex of any kind.

There is simply no sexual circumstance where Icy Hot, Bengay, or similar products are safe to use as a personal lubricant.

Icy Hot’s active ingredients — menthol and methyl salicylate — are known irritants that should never be applied to delicate genital skin.

Additionally, the warming and cooling sensations it delivers are intense because the product is meant to be used on sore muscles, penetrating the skin to relieve pain.

On the genitals, however, those sensations are amplified further because the skin in those areas is much thinner, and in the case of the vagina and anus, mucus membranes will absorb the liniment at a faster rate.

This is true during oral contact, as well — although Icy Hot is not safe for ingestion.

Genital application of Icy Hot (or similar products) can cause pain, burning, redness, and severe irritation that could lead to infection.

It is best to keep the Icy Hot on the shelf — there are many safer lubricants to choose from.

Can You Use Icy Hot As Vaginal Lube?

No, you cannot use Icy Hot (or similar products) as a vaginal lube during penetrative sex play or external masturbation.

As we discussed earlier, the vagina is a mucus membrane; Icy Hot warns that the product should never be applied to such areas because it can lead to severe irritation.

The product’s two active ingredients (menthol and methyl salicylate) are known irritants that deliver pain-relieving warming and cooling sensations when used on sore muscles.

Those ingredients can be incredibly harmful when used on the skin of the vagina or vulva, causing pain, burning, intense irritation, and possibly infection.

If you’re seeking a personal lubricant that will create a warming or cooling sensation safely, it is ALWAYS best to reach for a properly formulated sensitizing lubricant, instead.

Although these types of lubes can still be too intense for some people, they are the safest option.

Can You Use Icy Hot As Anal Lube?

Icy Hot (or similar products, like Bengay) should never be used as an anal lubricant.

The product’s key ingredients, menthol and methyl salicylate, are far too irritating for the delicate skin of the anus.

While there are personal lubricants designed to create warming or cooling sensations, they may not always be the wisest choice for anal sex.

The sensations created by such lubricants may be too intense during anal penetration.

Regardless of what you decide to reach for, Icy Hot is never safe for anal sex.

There are lots of better anal lube options out there, and there are plenty of anal lube alternatives that are much safer than Icy Hot.

What Is Icy Hot Made From And Is It Safe?

Icy Hot’s active ingredients are menthol (10% concentration), which provides cooling pain relief, and methyl salicylate (30% concentration) for creating an intense sensation of warmth.

Icy Hot is safe when used as directed, however, the product warns that serious burns have occurred in some cases — even when used as prescribed.

The inactive ingredients found in Icy Hot include:

While some of the ingredients in that list may be safe for genital use, they only make up 60% of Icy Hot’s chemical composition.

The other 40% is made from highly-irritating ingredients (menthol and methyl salicylate) that should never make contact with genital or anal skin.

What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Icy Hot?

Instead of Icy Hot, we suggest using a professionally formulated personal lubricant that is body-safe and made from quality ingredients you can trust.

There are lots of personal lubricant options available, such as:

Here’s a cheat sheet for selecting the best lube based on how you intend to use it:

Lube Type:
Oral Sex Yes Yes Not usually
Vaginal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Anal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Condom Types All All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only
Sex Toy Types All All but silicone All but latex
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Oral Sex
Vaginal Sex
Anal Sex
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?

There is a personal lubricant for every situation and preference, so if you’re not sure where to start, look at our in-depth lube guide or take our helpful lube quiz.

Let’s explore the four main lubricant categories below.

  • Water-Based Lubricants

Water-based lubricants are popular because they mimic your body’s natural lubrication, can be used with any type of STI or pregnancy barrier, and are safe for all sex toy materials.

If you’re looking for something long-lasting, however, they may not always be the best choice because they generally require frequent reapplication.

Additionally, being water-soluble, they rinse away during use in the tub or shower.

We researched and reviewed the safest and best water-based personal lubricants to help you find the perfect product if it’s one you want to try — and you should.

  • Silicone-Based Lubricants

Silicone-based lubes are much longer lasting compared to those made from water and are also safe to use with condoms, dental dams, and diaphragms.

However, silicone lube cannot be used with silicone sex toys, as they’ll degrade their material.

Silicone-based lubes are thick with a silk-like texture and are waterproof for play in the bath or shower, although they’re noticeably different from your body’s natural lubrication.

Our review of the best silicone-based personal lubes explores all of our hand-picked recommendations of the safest products available right now.

  • Oil-Based Lubricants

An oil-based lubricant is made from natural (and sometimes organic) oils, many of which are plant-based

If you have allergies to nuts, seeds, or flowers, make sure to read the label before use, as many oil-based lubricants source their oils from plants with a high allergen risk.

Oil-based lube’s thick texture, similar to silicone, is long-lasting and waterproof, however, it is not compatible with latex or polyisoprene condoms or dental dams.

Oil-based lubes generally shouldn’t be ingested or used during oral sex because their thick texture can present a choking hazard.

If you’re interested in exploring oil-based lubes, we researched and found the best oil-based personal lubricants.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Natural and organic personal lubricants are either water-based or oil-based.

Many products are made with plant-based ingredients, including nut-based oils or aloe, so always read the label thoroughly if you have allergies or sensitivities.

Through our independent research, we found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants to try.

Are There Any Safe Home Lube Alternatives?

If you’re in a pinch and you need a safe lube alternative that can be found in your home right now, there are a few options worth exploring:

Although the above lube alternatives are generally considered to be safe, oil-based lube alternatives should never be used with STI or pregnancy barriers made from latex or polyisoprene.

It’s also a good idea to do a patch test on your skin (like your inner elbow) to make sure you won’t experience a reaction after it’s applied to your genitals.

Our Top Lube Recommendations

After researching hundreds of personal lubricants — and personally testing dozens of them ourselves — we have found the very best lubes of each type, vetted by our team and recommended for their safety and performance.

Bottom Line: 

Icy Hot — and similar topical pain relievers — is never safe to use as a personal lubricant for any sexual situation.


Luckily, there are plenty of better lube alternatives and store-bought lubes to pick from.

If you don’t know what you need, make sure to read through our personal lube guide or take our helpful lube quiz!

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Lube Alternatives and Everything Lube hubs, in-depth and evolving resources that comprehensively explore all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

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