Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Student
There are many topical commercial products available for use in muscle and joint pains. Among many, capsaicin is a natural health product that is available for pain relief. Today, we’ll talk more about what it can be used for and what to expect when using the product.
What is capsaicin used for?
Capsaicin is a natural health products often recommended as a counterirritant to provide temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pains. These include back pain, arthritic pain, strains, bruises and sprains.
In addition to muscle and join pains, some recommend its use as an add-on therapy along for chronic neuropathic pain as a result of neuropathy or post-herpetic neuralgia.
When can I see the benefits?
OTC products (capsaicin 0.025% to 0.1%): 2 to 4 weeks of continuous therapy; Qutenza patch: 1 week after application
While use of capsaicin may be effective for relieving muscle and joint pains, there is limited evidence to support its use for headaches and non-allergic rhinitis.
What are some possible side effects?
Some common side effects include local pain, burning, stinging or redness at the site of application and coughing. Local irritation, while very common in the first week of treatment, often diminishes with continued use. In order to prevent the burning effect, it’s recommended to avoid heating pads, hot baths or showers, or excessive sweating prior to application. Coughing often may be due to inhalation of dried drug residue on the skin. Hence, washing the applied skin about 30 minutes after application may help reduce these symptoms.
Some other tips when applying capsaicin topical product is to either wear gloves or wash hands with soap and warm water immediately after application.
Is it safe in pregnant and breastfeeding women?
Unfortunately, safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding women has not been established. If breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid application to the breast and any direct contact with the infant.
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