Ibuprofen gel for pain relief (Ibuderm, Ibugel, Ibuleve)

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Apply a thin layer of gel up to three times daily and gently massage it into the affected area.

Wash your hands well afterwards.

It can cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal. Protect your skin from bright sunlight during treatment.

Type of medicineTopical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel
Used forTreating pain and swelling due to strains, sprains, backache or arthritis
Also calledFenbid®, Ibuderm®, Ibugel®, Ibuleve®, Nurofen®, Phorpain®
Available asSkin gel

Ibuprofen is a medicine called a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It is often referred to simply as 'an anti-inflammatory', or as an 'NSAID'. It works by preventing the production of some chemicals in your body which cause pain and inflammation. This leaflet deals with ibuprofen when it is applied topically to the skin. Ibuprofen can also be taken by mouth in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquid medicine - there is more information about this in a separate medicine leaflet called Ibuprofen for pain and inflammation.

When ibuprofen is applied to the skin as a gel, instead of it having an effect on all of your body, it only works on the area that you have applied it to. It is absorbed into your skin and then moves deeper into areas of your body where there is inflammation (for example, your muscle). Using a topical gel means that the total amount of ibuprofen in your body remains low. This in turn means that you are much less likely to have a side-effect to the medicine.

Ibuprofen gel is suitable for use by adults and you can buy it without a prescription. It is not recommended for a child under the age of 12 unless it has been prescribed by a doctor.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using ibuprofen gel it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
  • If you have asthma or any other allergic disorder.
  • If you have a skin condition - eczema, for example.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a non-steroidal painkiller (such as aspirin, ketoprofen, diclofenac, and indometacin) or to any other medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about ibuprofen gel and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from using it.
  • Apply a thin layer of the gel and gently massage it into the affected area. Wash your hands well afterwards.
  • You can use the gel up to three times a day. If you forget to apply the gel at your usual time, don't worry, just apply it when you remember and then continue as before.
  • Ibuprofen gel may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal. Do not use sunbeds, and protect any treated areas from strong sunlight until you know how your skin reacts.
  • Try to avoid the gel coming into contact with your eyes, and do not apply it to any broken or irritated areas of your skin. If this does happen by accident, wash it off with warm water as soon as possible.
  • It is important that you don't cover any area of skin that has been treated with the gel with any dressings or bandages. This is because more ibuprofen may be absorbed by your skin than is intended, and this could lead to unwanted effects.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with ibuprofen gel, although these do not commonly occur. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your gel. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Ibuprofen gel side-effects
What can I do if I experience this?
Skin irritation, or itchingIf severe, stop using the gel and it should clear within a day or two. If it continues or gets worse, consult your doctor as soon as possible

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the gel, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Make sure that the person prescribing this medicine knows about any other medicines that you are using. This includes medicines you buy and herbal and homeopathic medicines.

If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to use with your other medicines.

If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer’s PIL, Ibugel®; Dermal Laboratories Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2011.
  • British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
3716 (v23)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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