Capsaicin (On the skin)

Capsaicin (kap-SAY-sin)

Helps relieve muscle, joint, and nerve pain. Also treats nerve pain caused by postherpetic neuralgia or diabetic peripheral neuropathy of the feet.

Brand Name(s):

Arthricare For Women, Arthricare For Women Silky Dry, Arthritis Pain Relief, Arthritis Pain Relieving Cream, Capzasin-HP, Castiva Arthritis Pain Relief, Guardania, Rid-A-Pain, Rid-A-Pain-HP, Sure Result SR Relief, Theragen, Trixaicin HP, Zostrix, Zostrix Foot Pain, Zostrix Foot Pain Relief

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to capsaicin.

How to Use This Medicine:

Cream, Thin Sheet, Gel/Jelly, Liquid, Lotion, Ointment, Pad, Patch, Stick

  • Use this medicine only on your skin. Rinse it off right away if it gets on a cut or scrape. Do not get the medicine in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Do not use the medicine on open wounds, sores, scrapes, or irritated skin.
  • Cream, lotion, ointment, gel, or liquid:
    • Follow the instructions on the medicine label if you are using this medicine without a prescription.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you use this medicine. If you are using capsaicin for arthritis in your hands, do not wash your hands for at least 30 minutes after you apply it. Do not touch sensitive areas, including your eyes or mouth while the medicine is on your hands.
    • Shake the lotion bottle well before use.
    • Apply a small amount of the cream, lotion, ointment, gel, or liquid medicine over the affected area. Rub it in until you cannot see any medicine on your skin.
    • You may feel a burning or stinging feeling each time you rub in the medicine. This may last for 2 to 4 weeks. Continue to use full doses. The burning sensation will not improve or go away if you reduce the number of doses you use each day.
    • If a bandage is being used on the treated area, do not wrap it tightly.
  • Qutenza® patch:
    • A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
    • Your doctor may apply a numbing medicine to the treatment area to help lessen the discomfort when the patch is applied.
    • Your doctor may check your feet for any numbness, tingling, swelling, or pain in your feet for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
    • Leave the patch in place for at least 60 minutes for postherpetic neuralgia or 30 minutes for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Do not touch the patch while it is on your skin. Your doctor may also cover the treatment area with a rolled gauze or dressing to keep the patch in place.
    • Your doctor will apply a cleansing gel for at least 1 minute after removing the patch.
  • Missed dose: Apply a dose as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and apply a regular dose. Do not apply extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Talk to your doctor before you use any other skin medicine on the same area where you are using capsaicin.
  • Do not put cosmetics or skin care products on the treated skin.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, or a recent history of heart or blood vessel problems or brain or blood vessel problems.
  • Qutenza® patch may cause loss of sensory function. Tell your doctor if you have sensory function problems.
  • This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunscreen. Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds. Do not take hot showers or baths, or exercise too much during treatment with this medicine.
  • Do not use this medicine to treat a skin problem your doctor has not examined.
  • Your doctor will check your progress and the effects of this medicine at regular visits. Keep all appointments. Your blood pressure will be measured while the patch is on your skin and after it has been removed. If you check your blood pressure at home and notice any changes, call your doctor right away.
  • Zostrix®:
    • You may need to use the medicine for 2 weeks or more before it relieves your pain. Keep using the medicine every day. If the medicine has not helped after a month, or if your pain becomes worse after a week, talk with your doctor.
    • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blurred vision, dizziness, headache
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Fast, slow, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, trouble breathing, body aches
  • Severe irritation, pain, redness, or swelling of the skin or eyes

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Change in or loss of taste
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Skin itching or dryness

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 11/6/2020

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