Can I Use Deep Heat When Pregnant? Is It Safe?

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Written by Shandra Williams

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Pregnancy doesn’t come without its problems and inconveniences. One of the most common of these is back and shoulder pain. The Australian-based product Deep Heat is an excellent option for treating these types of aches, but is it safe for pregnant women to use?

You should not use Deep Heat products while pregnant. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) advises explicitly against the product by name, along with ibuprofen and Nurofen. These ingredients aren’t safe for pregnant women or their developing babies.

This article will provide an in-depth overview of some of Deep Heat’s most popular products and whether or not they’re safe for use by expectant mothers. It will also provide you with a few alternatives to it that can help ease your muscle aches without putting your baby at risk. Keep reading to find out more.

Is Deep Heat Safe When Pregnant? Can I Use It?

The official line on the Deep Heat website is that you should consult your physician before using any Deep Heat products, which isn’t all that helpful if you’re looking for a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Most Deep Heat products aren’t safe for pregnant women because they contain ibuprofen. They also feature methyl salicylate and menthol in their ingredients, and both are unsafe for expectant mothers. The Deep Heat roll-on muscle rub may be safe, but you might be better off finding an alternative.

There is little scholarly information online specifically about Deep Heat products; however, the NHS states explicitly: “Never take anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, Nurofen, or Deep Heat during pregnancy” (source: National Health Service UK). 

Additionally, as I mentioned above, all of the Deep Heat medical products except for the roll-on muscle rub include menthol and methyl salicylate. Doctors advise pregnant women to avoid both of those products. 

woman holding a deep heat cream

Can I Use Deep Heat Cream or Spray When Pregnant? Is It Safe?

You shouldn’t use Deep Heat cream or spray while you’re pregnant. Like most other Deep Heat products, the cream contains ibuprofen and other potentially harmful ingredients. The spray doesn’t contain ibuprofen, but it does include methyl nicotinate, methyl salicylate, and ethyl salicylate.* 

All of those ingredients should be avoided while pregnant.

*Note: All of the above ingredient information comes from the following sources: Medpharm & Dr. Pharmacy). 

Can I Use Deep Heat Muscle Rub (Roll On) During Pregnancy?

You can use Deep Heat roll-on muscle rub while pregnant, but if you want to be extra sure that it’s okay, you should talk to your doctor about it first. All of the individual ingredients in the roll-on muscle rub are relatively safe for use by expectant mothers.

The ingredients in the roll-on muscle rub include the following: 

  • Aqua
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Dimethicone
  • Cetearyl Alcohol
  • Glyceryl Stearate
  • Paraffinum Liquidum
  • Sorbitan Stearate
  • Rosmarinus Officinalis Flower Oil
  • Vanillyl Butyl Ether
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Limonene
  • Linalool (source: Sainsbury’s)

A few of these ingredients, such as paraffinum liquidum and phenoxyethanol, have been cited by doctors as potentially not safe for pregnant women, though testing to back up these claims is minimal (source: National Library of Medicine). 

At least in the case of phenoxyethanol, the problem seems to be that it could become more of a skin irritant for you if you use it while your hormones are in flux during pregnancy. There doesn’t seem to be much risk to your developing child. However, as I said, testing has been limited. 

For that reason, it might be better for you to avoid even the roll-on if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding just in case. There are much safer options out there, and they aren’t particularly hard to find, so why take the risk when you can get similar results from a pregnancy-safe product?

Can Pregnant Women Use Deep Heat Patches or Belts?

Pregnant women can probably wear Deep Heat belts as long as they keep them away from their abdomens and remove them before they get so hot that it raises their body temperature. However, they shouldn’t wear patches because they contain unsafe ingredients. 

The ingredients in the belts include the following: 

  • Iron powder
  • Water
  • Vermiculite
  • Activated Carbon 
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polyethylene Film (source: Amazon UK)

There’s no menthol, no ibuprofen, and nothing else that’s typically considered unsafe for women. That’s because the belts themselves aren’t medicated; they’re more like wearable, portable heating pads. As such, pregnant women can wear them for short periods just as they would heating pads. 

The patches, however, are medicated. They contain methyl salicylate (unsafe), menthol (unsafe), eucalyptus oil (safe in moderate doses), and turpentine oil (unsafe) (source: Weldricks Pharmacy). 

Therefore, pregnant women shouldn’t wear them. 

What is a Good Deep Heat Alternative for Pregnancy?

One of the best pregnancy-safe alternatives for Deep Heat is Deep Freeze. There is Deep Freeze Cold Gel, Deep Freeze Muscle Massage Roll-On Gel, Deep Freeze Cold Spray, and Deep Freeze Pain Relief Cold Patches. Each product is entirely medicine-free, using only the power of cold to relieve aches.

You can typically find these products in any pharmacy or retail store, or you can find them on Amazon. 

Deep Freeze Cold Gel

Deep Freeze Muscle Massage Roll-On Gel

Deep Freeze Cold Spray

Deep Freeze Pain Relief Cold Patches

Overall, although there are a couple of Deep Heat products that you might be able to use – the roll-on gel and the heating belts, for example – you should probably avoid all the rest.

Also, double-check with your doctor before using even those products that appear safe, or skip them altogether and opt for Deep Freeze instead.