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.”

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  • Capsicum Oleoresin, Capsin, Capzasin Back and Body, Capzasin Quick Relief, Capzasin-HP, Capzasin-P, Castiva Warming, Icy Hot PM, Icy Hot with Capsaicin, Menthac Arthritis Cream with Capsaicin, Qutenza, Salonpas Gel-Patch, Salonpas Pain Patch with Capsaicin, Sloan's Liniment, Trixaicin, Trixaicin HP, Zostrix, Zostrix Diabetic Foot Pain, Zostrix Foot Pain, Zostrix Neuropathy, Zostrix Sports, Zostrix-HP, Dolorac, RT Capsin, Capzasin-HP Arthritis Formula, Dr.s Cream, Analgesic Balm with Capsaicin, Axsain, Capzasin Quick Relief (obsolete)
  • More common - all forms
    Burning, itching, dryness, pain, redness, swelling, or soreness at the application site
    Less common - all forms
    cough-producing mucus
    difficulty with breathing
    shortness of breath or troubled breathing
    sore throat
    stuffy or runny nose
    tightness in the chest or wheezing
    Less common - patch only
    Blurred vision
    pounding in the ears
    slow or fast heartbeat
    Incidence not known - patch only
    Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
    increased sensitivity to pain
    increased sensitivity to touch
    rapid weight gain
    tingling in the hands and feet
    unsteadiness or awkwardness
    unusual weight gain or loss
    weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
    Severity: Minor
    Some of the side effects that can occur with capsaicin topical may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

    Less common - patch only
    muscle aches
    pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
    unusual tiredness or weakness
    Incidence not known - patch only
    Abnormal skin color
    change in taste
    loss of taste
  • (topical cream, topical lotion, topical liquid, topical film, compounding powder, topical kit, topical stick)