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Capsaicin is a natural ingredient within spicy peppers. It gives peppers such as the popular cayenne pepper its hot and spicy punch. Capsaicin comes in many forms, from the actual peppers themselves, to dried powders, supplements, as well as in topical custom drugs designed for skin issues. Capsaicin, as a skin cream or topical ointment works with the body's nerve system to stimulate pain signals which ultimately allows them to be decreased and provide pain relief. Capsaicin is prescribed for patients with cluster headaches, post-surgical pain, diabetic neuropathy, trigeminal neuralgia, and postherpetic neuralgia (shingles) as well as various types of arthritis, psoriasis, and more. As a dietary supplement, capsaicin is sometimes prescribed to aid in digestion and fight infection-causing bacteria. Capsaicin is used in some patients with lung issues as it may provide for thinning of mucous. Capsaicin is also an antioxidant and it provides protection in the body from harmful free radicals that damage cells.

How to Use Capsaicin

Cream or Ointment: Capsaicin can be applied, in cream or ointment form, up to four times daily. Always remember to wash hands after each use to avoid rubbing any capsaicin into your eyes or mucous membranes, which will cause burning. Never apply capsaicin to broken or raw skin. Ask your compounding pharmacist about other forms of capsaicin delivery. While capsaicin is used in a myriad of treatments it also has a myriad of delivery forms. Ask your compounding pharmacist and physician which form is right for you. Your compounding pharmacist can provide capsaicin in many forms possibly including the following:

  • Lotion / Cream
  • Ointment
  • Gel
  • Jelly
  • Liquid
  • Extended Release Patch
  • Stick
  • Pad
  • Film
  • Solution

Possible Side Effects

Many different side effects are possible as each person's chemical makeup is unique. As capsaicin is used to treat so many conditions in a variety of ways you should talk with your doctor about possible side effects and the necessary response to any side effects before using capsaicin in any form. Though not common, severe allergic reactions may occur in some users. Look for signs of potentially severe allergic reactions and seek medical help immediately if you experience any of the following potentially dangerous allergic reactions:

  • Itching and/or Swelling (face, throat and tongue especially)
  • Intense Dizziness
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Rash


All patients, especially anyone with a history of blood pressure or allergy issues, considering the use of capsaicin should first consult with their physician before beginning use. It is important for their doctor to fully grasp their medical history and be aware of any medications that they are currently taking before approving the use of capsaicin for any condition. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should not use capsaicin unless first receiving approval of its use by their primary care doctor.

  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA