Specialty Drug


CAPSAICIN is a pain reliever. It is used to treat postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) pain. Compare TRPV1 agonists.

What is Qutenza?

Commonly Used Brand Name(s)Arthricare For Women, Capsagel, Capsagesic-HP Arthritis Relief, Capsin, Double Cap, Icy Hot Arthritis Therapy, Pain Enz, Rid-A-Pain, Sportsmed, Therapatch Warm, Trixaicin, Zostrix

Therapeutic ClassificationsAnalgesic




Capsaicin is used to help relieve a certain type of pain known as neuralgia (shingles). Capsaicin is also used to help relieve minor pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis or muscle sprains and strains. This medicine will not cure any of these conditions.

Neuralgia is a pain that comes from the nerves near the surface of your skin. This pain may occur after an infection with herpes zoster (shingles or postherpetic neuralgia). Capsaicin will help relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia, but it will not cure the condition.

This medicine is available both over-the-counter (OTC) and with your doctor's prescription.

Proper UseTOP

A nurse or other trained healthcare professional will apply the topical Qutenza™ patch to the affected area.

If you are using the topical cream, gel, lotion, or ointment for neuralgia, muscle pain, or arthritis, follow the instructions on the medicine label.

Be careful not to get any of this medicine in your eyes, because it can cause severe eye irritation. If the medicine does get in your eyes, wash the eyes with water and check with your doctor right away.

If capsaicin gets on your face, scalp, or in your mouth, it may cause a burning sensation. Wash these areas with warm (not hot) soapy water.

If you are using the cream, gel, lotion, or ointment:

  • Do not put the medicine on wounds or irritated skin.
  • Apply a small amount of medicine and use your fingers to rub it in well so very little or no medicine is left on the skin.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after applying the medicine to avoid getting it in your eyes or on other sensitive areas of the body.
  • If you are using capsaicin for arthritis in your hands, do not wash your hands for at least 30 minutes after applying it.
  • If a bandage is being used on the treated area, do not wrap it tightly.
  • Use the medicine regularly every day as directed. It may take a full 2 weeks before your pain goes away.
  • If your condition gets worse, or does not improve after one month, stop using the medicine and check with your doctor.


The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For topical dosage form (cream, gel, lotion, or ointment):
    • For arthritis, muscle pain, or neuralgia:
      • Adults and teenagers—Apply regularly 3 or 4 times a day and rub in well.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed DoseTOP

If you miss a dose of this medicine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.

Use & StorageTOP

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Before UsingTOP

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of capsaicin in children. Safety and efficacy have not been established.


Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of capsaicin in the elderly.

Drug InteractionsTOP

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other InteractionsTOP

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical ProblemsTOP

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Infection at application area or
  • Large sores, broken, or irritated skin at application area—Use with caution. May cause side effects to become worse.


If you use the Qutenza™ patch:

  • Your doctor will check you closely for any problems or unwanted effects that may be caused by this medicine.
  • Your blood pressure will be measured while the patch is on your skin and after it has been removed. If you notice any change to your recommended blood pressure at home, call your doctor right away. If you have questions about this, talk to your doctor.
  • You may have some skin redness, burning, or a stinging sensation at the application site. Heat, humidity, bathing in warm water, or sweating may increase the burning sensation. If this irritation is severe or does not go away, call your doctor.
  • Your skin may be more sensitive to heat and sunlight. Use a sunscreen when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have coughing, shortness of breath, or any breathing problems after the patch is removed.
  • Your doctor might give you oral pain medicines (e.g., opioids, narcotics) while the patch is in place and after it is removed. These medicines may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert.

If you use the cream, gel, lotion, or ointment:

  • You may have some skin redness, burning, or a stinging sensation at the application site. Although this usually disappears after the first several days, it may last 2 to 4 weeks. Heat, humidity, bathing in warm water, or sweating may increase the burning sensation. If this irritation is severe or does not go away, call your doctor.
  • The burning sensation will not improve or go away if you reduce the number of doses you use each day. Using fewer doses may also reduce the amount of pain relief you get.
  • Your skin may be more sensitive to heat and sunlight. Use a sunscreen when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have coughing, shortness of breath, or any breathing problems after the medicine has dried on the skin.
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