Capsaicin - 10 Things You Should Know
Capsaicin is an ingredient in many topical skin preparations used to relieve pain.
Capsaicin is available as a cream, ointment, stick, pad, gel, liquid, or lotion. It is
marketed under many brand names including Zostrix, Icy Hot Arthritis Therapy,
Capsagel, and Arthricare for Women.
Here, 10 things you should know about capsaicin:
1 - Capsaicin is the active component of chili peppers.
Capsaicin is actually an irritant to humans, producing a burning sensation in any tissue it
touches. Capsaicin works by depleting or interfering with substance P, a chemical
involved in transmitting pain impulses to the brain. The properties of capsaicin make it an
option for relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetic
neuropathy. Capsaicin is used to relieve muscle pain, joint pain, or nerve pain.
2 - Capsaicin is available over the counter.
You do not need a prescription for capsaicin from your doctor. You can find products
containing capsaicin in your drugstore for over-the-counter purchase. You should follow
the directions given by your doctor or the directions on the label (there are different
dosages or strengths of capsaicin available). For pain relief, capsaicin is usually used 3 or
4 times a day. You should rub the capsaicin cream or gel into the painful area until no
more cream is visible on the skin.
Wash hands thoroughly after applying capsaicin to other areas of the body. If the
capsaicin was applied for hand pain, however, wash your hands after 30 minutes.
3 - Don't use extra doses of capsaicin.
Stick to the directions, but if you should inadvertently miss a dose, use it as soon as you
remember -- unless it's close to the time of the next dose.
4 - Capsaicin has no known drug interactions.
Though there are no recognized drug interactions with capsaicin, ask your doctor to be
sure that you can use capsaicin, and continue to take your current medications. It's
important to inform your doctor about any products you ar