Advertisement

What are capsaicin ointments?

Capsaicin ointments contain extract of red chili peppers from the jalapeno pepper plant. These extracts are rich in capsaicin, a substance that makes peppers burning hot. Capsaicin increases the release of, and then depletes, a messenger substance that transmits pain signals to the brain. Although it is quite difficult to conduct double-blind trials because of the burning sensation that capsaicin initially causes, there seems to be a consensus that applying capsaicin ointments to painful joints will help ease the pain. And, unlike counterirritant ointments, capsaicin preparations do not cause redness.

Capsaicin ointments, such as Zostrix, are typically applied to the skin directly over the painful joints two to four times per day. Maximal pain relief may require several weeks. For the first few days of use, capsaicin ointment will cause a burning sensation where it is applied. The burning sensation may increase when using warm water (i.e., in a bath or shower), if the cream is applied less than three or four times per day, if there is perspiration, or if a bandage is used over the cream.

It is extremely important to handle capsaicin ointments carefully and to wash your hands thoroughly -- especially your fingertips -- after each application to avoid spreading the cream onto sensitive areas. If capsaicin comes into contact with wounds, the mouth, the nose, other mucosal surfaces -- and especially the eyes -- it can cause very severe discomfort and pain although it leaves no damage.

Continue Learning about Analgesic

What should I avoid while taking analgesics?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
Until you know how you will react to analgesics, you should not drive or operate any heavy machinery...
More Answers
How can analgesics relieve flu symptoms?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
An analgesic is a type of medication used to relieve pain, including pain related to the cold or fl...
More Answers
What are analgesics?
National Kidney FoundationNational Kidney Foundation
Analgesics are medicines that help to control pain and reduce fever; some types also decrease inflam...
More Answers
Should I let my doctor know I am taking analgesics?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
If you are planning on taking analgesics, you should talk to your doctor. In fact, you should always...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.