What Are the Side Effects and Warnings for Tiger Balm?

Topically applied Tiger Balm can cause a number of digestion-related side effects such as diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps, according to WebMD. It can also cause excessive build-up of stomach acid and heartburn.

These digestive stomach side effects are common but not severe, notes WebMD. Less commonly, Tiger Balm can cause general skin irritation and itchiness, which are not severe side effects. More severe side effects include skin ulcers and a range of allergic side effects that include hives and a burning sensation on the skin.

Patients should seek emergency medical attention if they experience symptoms of an allergic reaction to Tiger Balm or a similar substance, advises Drugs.com. In addition to hives, an allergic reaction can cause difficulty breathing and swelling of the face, lips, throat and tongue.

Tiger Balm is a brand name, and its primary ingredients are camphor and menthol, according to Drugs.com. Other brands with similar ingredients include VapoRub, Sarna and DermaSarra. Camphor serves as a minor pain reliever, while the menthol creates a cooling sensation on the skin. Before applying a large amount of Tiger Balm or a similar substance, a user might want to test it on a small part of his skin to see how it reacts. People with sunburned, windburned, chapped, irritated or broken skin should not use Tiger Balm.