Liniment vs. Ointment

By Jaxson

  • Liniment

    Liniment (or embrocation), from the Latin linere, to anoint, is a medicated topical preparation for application to the skin. Sometimes called balms or heat rubs, liniments are of a similar or lesser viscosity than lotions and are rubbed in to create friction, unlike lotions, ointments or creams, but patches, sticks and sprays are also available.

    Liniments are typically sold to relieve pain and stiffness, such as from sore muscular aches and strains, or arthritis. These are typically formulated from alcohol, acetone, or similar quickly evaporating solvents and contain counterirritant aromatic chemical compounds such as methyl salicilate, benzoin resin, menthol, or capsaicin. They produce a feeling of warmth within the muscle of the area they are applied to, typically acting as rubefacients via a counterirritant effect.

    Liniments have been around since antiquity.

    The methyl salicylate that is the active analgesic ingredient in some heat-rub products can be toxic if they are used in excess. Heating pads are also not recommended for use with heat rubs, as the added warmth may cause overabsorption of the active ingredients.

  • Ointment

    A topical medication is a medication that is applied to a particular place on or in the body. Most often topical administration means application to body surfaces such as the skin or mucous membranes to treat ailments via a large range of classes including creams, foams, gels, lotions, and ointments. Many topical medications are epicutaneous, meaning that they are applied directly to the skin. Topical medications may also be inhalational, such as asthma medications, or applied to the surface of tissues other than the skin, such as eye drops applied to the conjunctiva, or ear drops placed in the ear, or medications applied to the surface of a tooth. The word topical derives from Greek τοπικός topikos, “of a place”.

  • Liniment (noun)

    A topical medical preparation intended to be rubbed into the skin with friction, as for example to relieve symptoms of arthritis.

  • Liniment (verb)

    To apply liniment to.

  • Ointment (noun)

    A viscous preparation of oils and/or fats, usually containing medication, used as a treatment or as an emollient.

  • Ointment (noun)

    A substance used to anoint, as in religious rituals.

  • Liniment (noun)

    an embrocation for rubbing on the body to relieve pain, especially one made with oil.

  • Ointment (noun)

    a smooth oily substance that is rubbed on the skin for medicinal purposes or as a cosmetic

    “scented ointments for the skin”

    “he rubbed some ointment on his leg”

Oxford Dictionary

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