Why is this medicine prescribed?
Topical capsaicin is used to relieve minor pain in muscles and joints caused by arthritis, backaches, muscle strains, bruises, cramps, and sprains. Capsaicin is a substance that is found in chili peppers. It works by affecting nerve cells in the skin that are associated with pain, which results in decreased activity of these nerve cells and a reduced sense of pain.
Are there other uses for this medicine?
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Capsaicin comes as an ointment, cream, gel, oil, and a topical solution in various strengths to apply to the skin. Topical capsaicin is usually used as needed as stated on the product label or as directed by your doctor. Follow the directions on the package instructions carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use topical capsaicin exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than directed by the package instructions.
To use topical capsaicin, apply a small amount of ointment, cream, oil, or topical solution to cover the affected area of skin with a thin layer and rub it in gently. Avoid applying topical capsaicin into folds of skin.
Do not apply topical capsaicin to skin that is broken, damaged, cut, infected, or covered by a rash. Do not wrap or bandage the treated area.
This medication is only for use on the skin. Do not let topical capsaicin get into your eyes, nose, or mouth and do not swallow it.
Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any medicine that may have gotten on them. If topical capsaicin is applied to the hands, wait for 30 minutes before washing your hands. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth until you have washed your hands.
While using topical capsaicin, protect treated area from direct heat such as heating pads, electric blankets, hair dryers, and heat lamps. Topical capsaicin should not be applied immediately before or after showering, taking a bath, swimming, or vigorous exercise.
Stop using topical capsaicin and call your doctor if your pain worsens, improves and then worsens, or lasts longer than 7 days.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before using topical capsaicin,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to capsaicin, any other medications, chili peppers, or any of the other ingredients in topical capsaicin. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: transdermal patches such as diclofenac (Flector), nicotine (Nicoderm, Nicotrol), rivastigmine (Exelon), rotigotine (Neupro) or other topical medications for pain.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using topical capsaicin, call your doctor.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing and sunscreen. Topical capsaicin may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
- you should know that topical capsaicin may cause burning at the application site that generally disappears after several days. Stop using topical capsaicin and call your doctor right away if severe burning at application site occurs.
- you should know that topical capsaicin may cause coughing, sneezing, tearing, and throat or respiratory irritation if inhaled. Do not inhale dried residue from the place where you applied topical capsaicin.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
This medication is usually used as needed. If your doctor has told you to use topical capsaicin regularly, apply the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What should I do in case of overdose?
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help . If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What side effects can this medicine cause?
Topical capsaicin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- burning sensation at the place where capsaicin was applied
- redness, itching, or irritation at the place where capsaicin was applied
- throat irritation
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms call your doctor immediately:
- pain, swelling, or blistering at the place where capsaicin was applied
- eye irritation or pain
Topical capsaicin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch ) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from light, excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p ) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
What other information should I know?
Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about topical capsaicin.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.