Ibuprofen gel Fenbid, Ibugel, Ibuleve

Last updated by Peer reviewed by Sid Dajani
Last updated Meets Patient’s editorial guidelines

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Apply a thin layer of gel and gently massage it into the affected area. The gel can be applied up to three times a day.

Wash your hands well after using the gel.

Ibuprofen gel could cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal.

Type of medicineA non-steroidal anti-inflammatory skin gel
Used forTreating pain and swelling due to strains, sprains, backache or arthritis
Also calledFenbid®; Ibuderm®; Ibugel®; Ibuleve®; Mentholatum®; Nurofen®; Phorpain®; Radian B®
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 sometimes as an 'NSAID'. It works by preventing the production of some natural 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 skin 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 that this is the right treatment for you, before you start using ibuprofen gel it is important that you speak with a doctor or pharmacist:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • 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, naproxen, diclofenac, and indometacin) or to any other medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about ibuprofen and will provide you a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from using it.
  • Apply a thin layer of the gel and gently massage it into the affected area. Wash your hands well after using the gel (unless you've applied it to treat your hands).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ibuprofen gel could cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal in areas where it has been applied. Do not use sunbeds, and protect any treated areas from strong sunlight until you know how your skin reacts.
  • 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 could 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. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with the gel, is from the manufacturer's printed information leaflet supplied with it. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer's information leaflet in the reference section below. 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
Breathing difficultiesIf you have asthma, symptoms such as wheeze or breathlessness can be made worse. Stop using the gel and speak with a doctor

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

There is a risk of fire when skin products are absorbed by fabrics (such as clothing or bedsheets), making them flammable. A spark or flame can easily ignite the fabric. The risk is highest when large amounts of paraffin-based products are applied and absorb into fabrics. However there is also a risk when non-paraffin products are used. Be aware of this fire hazard when repeatedly using large amounts of any skin product. Do not smoke or go near naked flames.

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

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 by accident, 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.

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