Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library capsaicin topical

capsaicin topical

Pronunciation: kap SAY sin TOP i kal

Brand: Capsin, Capzasin-HP, Castiva Warming, Icy Hot with Capsaicin, Menthac Arthritis Cream with Capsaicin, Qutenza, Sloan's Liniment, Zostrix

What is the most important information I should know about capsaicin topical?

What is the most important information I should know about capsaicin topical?

Do not use this medicine if you are allergic to chili peppers, or if you have ever had an allergic reaction to capsaicin topical.

Capsaicin can cause a burning sensation wherever it is applied. If you have severe discomfort or skin redness, wash the treated skin area with soap and cool water.

Get medical attention right away if you have severe burning, pain, swelling, or blistering of the skin where you applied this medicine.

What is capsaicin topical?

What is capsaicin topical?

Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that makes them hot. Capsaicin is used in medicated creams and lotions to relieve muscle or joint pain.

Capsaicin used on the body causes a sensation of heat that activates certain nerve cells. With regular use of capsaicin, this heating effect reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that acts as a pain messenger in the body.

Capsaicin topical is used for temporary relief of muscle or joint pain caused by strains, sprains, arthritis, bruising, or backaches. Capsaicin topical is also used to treat nerve pain (neuralgia) in people who have had herpes zoster, or "shingles."

Qutenza is a prescription-strength form of capsaicin topical that is applied by a healthcare professional. Qutenza is used to treat nerve pain caused by herpes, and also to treat nerve pain in the feet (peripheral neuropathy) in people with diabetes.

Capsaicin topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medicine guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using capsaicin topical?

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using capsaicin topical?

Do not use this medicine if you are allergic to chili peppers, or if you have ever had an allergic reaction to capsaicin topical.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • any allergies (especially to plants); or
  • a serious medical condition.

Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not apply capsaicin topical to your breast area if you are breastfeeding a baby.

Do not use this medicine on anyone younger than 18 years old without the advice of a doctor.

How should I use capsaicin topical?

How should I use capsaicin topical?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. The Qutenza brand of capsaicin is applied only by a healthcare professional and is not available over the counter.

Do not take by mouth. Topical medicine is for use only on the skin.

Capsaicin is available in different forms, such as a cream, lotion, liquid, and skin patch. Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Do not use this medicine on open wounds or on sunburned, windburned, dry, chapped, or irritated skin. If this medicine gets in your eyes, nose, mouth, rectum, or vagina, rinse with water.

Make sure your skin is clean and dry before you apply capsaicin topical.

Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after applying capsaicin topical or handling a topical skin patch. If you have applied the medicine to your hands or fingers to treat pain in those areas, wait at least 30 minutes before washing your hands.

To prevent getting this medicine on your fingers, use a rubber glove, finger cot, cotton ball, or clean tissue to apply the medicine.

Capsaicin can cause a burning sensation wherever it is applied. Even if the medicine gets on a surface other than your skin, you may feel burning when you later touch that surface. This sensation is usually mild and should gradually lessen over time with continued regular use of the medicine.

If the burning sensation is painful or causes severe discomfort, wash the treated skin area with soap and cool water. Get medical attention right away if you have severe burning, pain, swelling, or blistering.

Do not cover treated skin with a bandage or heating pad, which can increase the burning sensation. You may cover the skin with clothing.

Avoid taking a bath or shower within 1 hour before or after you apply capsaicin to your skin. Also avoid swimming or vigorous exercise. Warm water or perspiration can increase the burning sensation caused by capsaicin.

Avoid getting capsaicin topical in your eyes or near your nose where you might inhale it. If it does get into any of these areas, rinse thoroughly with water.

Also avoid getting this medicine on contact lenses, dentures, and other items that come into contact with sensitive areas of your body.

It may take up to 2 weeks of using this medicine regularly before your symptoms improve. For best results, keep using the medicine as directed. Pain relief should occur gradually as the substance P in your body is decreased in the nerve cells.

Call your doctor if your pain does not improve after using this medicine for 7 days, or if your symptoms get worse or get better and then come back in a few days.

Store capsaicin topical at room temperature away from moisture and heat, in a place where children and pets cannot get to it.

Capsaicin topical liquid is flammable. Do not use or store near fire or open flame.

What happens if I miss a dose?

What happens if I miss a dose?

Use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not apply capsaicin more than 4 times in one day, or use extra medicine to make up a missed dose.

A missed dose of capsaicin topical will not cause harm but may make the medicine less effective reducing substance P and relieving your pain.

What happens if I overdose?

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222, especially if anyone has accidentally swallowed it.

Accidental swallowing of capsaicin can cause severe burning in or around the mouth, watery eyes, runny nose, and trouble swallowing or breathing.

Applying too much capsaicin topical to the skin can cause severe burning or redness.

What should I avoid while using capsaicin topical?

What should I avoid while using capsaicin topical?

Avoid inhaling the odor or dried residue of capsaicin topical. Inhaling capsaicin can cause coughing, sneezing, or watery eyes, and can irritate your throat or lungs.

Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose, genitals, or rectum until the medicine has been washed off your hands. Also avoid handling food while the medicine is still on your hands.

Avoid exposing treated skin to sunlight, sunlamps, tanning beds, or a hot tub. Capsaicin can cause a burning sensation that may be made worse by heat.

Do not use other medicated skin products, including muscle pain creams or lotions, on areas where you have applied capsaicin, unless your doctor has told you to.

What are the possible side effects of capsaicin topical?

What are the possible side effects of capsaicin topical?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Wash the skin and get medical attention right away if you have severe burning, pain, swelling, or blistering of the skin where you applied this medicine.

Stop using capsaicin topical and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe pain or skin redness where the medicine was applied;
  • loss of feeling;
  • trouble breathing or swallowing (after accidental inhalation of capsaicin odor or dried residue).

Common side effects may include pain or a burning sensation that can last for several hours or days (especially after your first use of capsaicin topical).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect capsaicin topical?

What other drugs will affect capsaicin topical?

It is not likely that other drugs you take orally or inject will have an effect on topically applied capsaicin. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Where can I get more information?

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about capsaicin topical.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details