Why is this medication prescribed?
Nonprescription (over-the-counter) capsaicin patches (Aspercreme Warming, Salonpas Pain Relieving Hot, others) are used to relieve minor pain in muscles and joints caused by arthritis, backaches, muscle strains, bruises, cramps, and sprains. Prescription capsaicin patches (Qutenza) are used to relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN; the burning, stabbing pain or aches that may last for months or years after an attack of shingles). Prescription capsaicin patches (Qutenza) are also used to relieve the pain of diabetic neuropathy (numbness or tingling due to nerve damage in people who have diabetes). Capsaicin is a substance that is found in chili peppers. It works by affecting nerve cells in the skin that are associated with pain, which results in decreased activity of these nerve cells and a reduced sense of pain.
How should this medicine be used?
Prescription transdermal capsaicin comes as an 8% patch (Qutenza) to be applied to the skin by a doctor or nurse. Your doctor will choose the best place to apply the patch(es) in order to treat your condition. If transdermal capsaicin (Qutenza) is used to relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia, up to 4 patches are usually applied for 60 minutes once every 3 months. If transdermal capsaicin (Qutenza) is used to relieve the pain of diabetic neuropathy, up to 4 patches are usually applied for 30 minutes once every 3 months.
Nonprescription (over the counter) transdermal capsaicin comes as a 0.025% patch (Aspercreme Warming, Salonpas Pain Relieving Hot, others) to apply up to 3 or 4 times daily and for no more than 8 hours per application. Use nonprescription capsaicin patches exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often or for a longer period of time than directed by the package instructions.
Your doctor may apply an anesthetic to numb your skin before applying prescription transdermal capsaicin (Qutenza). Tell your doctor if you experience pain at the application site. Your doctor may use a cold pack or give you another medication for pain.
Apply nonprescription (over the counter) capsaicin patches to a clean, dry, hairless area of skin as directed by the package directions. Do not apply capsaicin patches to skin that is broken, damaged, cut, infected, or covered by a rash. Do not wrap or bandage the treated area.
Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any medicine that may have gotten on them. Do not touch your eyes until you have washed your hands.
Do not let the nonprescription (over the counter) patches come in contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth. If the patch does touch your eye or if irritation of your eyes, nose, or mouth occurs, wash the affected area immediately with water. Call a doctor if eye, skin, nose, or throat irritation.
While you are wearing a capsaicin patch and for a few days after treatment with prescription transdermal capsaicin, protect treated area from direct heat such as heating pads, electric blankets, hair dryers, heat lamps, saunas, and hot tubs. In addition, vigorous exercise should be avoided for a few days following treatment with prescription transdermal capsaicin. You should not shower or take a bath while you are wearing a nonprescription (over the counter) capsaicin patch. You should remove the patch at least 1 hour before showering or taking a bath; do not apply capsaicin patches immediately after showering or taking a bath.
Stop using nonprescription capsaicin patches and call your doctor if severe burning occurs or if your pain worsens, improves and then worsens, or lasts longer than 7 days.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before using capsaicin patches,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to capsaicin, any other medications, chili peppers, or any of the other ingredients in capsaicin patches. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: opioid (narcotic) pain medications such as codeine (found in many cough and pain medications), morphine (Kadian), hydrocodone (Hyslingla, Zohydro, in Apadaz, others), and oxycodone (Oxycontin, Xtampza, in Percocet, others) or other topical medications for pain.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had high blood pressure, stroke or mini-stroke, heart problems, or trouble feeling or sensing touch on the skin.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using capsaicin patches, call your doctor.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing and sunscreen. Capsaicin patches may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Apply a new patch as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next scheduled application, skip the missed dose and continue your regular schedule. Do not apply an extra capsaicin patch to make up for a missed dose.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Transdermal capsaicin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- burning sensation at the place where the patch was applied
- redness, itching, or small bumps at the place where the patch was applied
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- pain, swelling, or blistering at the place where the patch was applied
- eye irritation or pain
- throat irritation
Transdermal capsaicin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children and pets. Store it at room temperature.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
- Aspercreme Warming® Patch
- Coralite ® Medicated Heat Patch
- Medirelief Hot® Patch
- Qutenza® Patch
- Salonpas Pain Relieving Hot® Patch
- Satogesic Hot® Patch
- Solistice Hot® Patch
Brand names of combination products
- Toplast Hot® Patch (containing menthol, capsaicin)