Capsaicin Treatment

What is capsaicin?

Capsaicin is a component of dry red pepper (chili), which has the property of binding to pain receptors (nociceptors) in our body. Upon binding, capsaicin activates nociceptors and triggers sensory neurons to transmit pain signals to the spine and brain. This is why we have a burning sensation or even itching when using capsaicin.


The opposite effect occurs when this medication is overused (duration- and dose-wise), as the pain receptors are blocked and the sensory neurons stop transmitting pain signals. In other words, repeated exposure to capsaicin or exposure to very large amounts of capsaicin can lead to reduced pain sensation, as the function of sensory neurons is temporarily inhibited.

Effects on the body

Topical ointment application

Topical application is often performed using a low- or high-capsaicin ointment, depending on the patient. The ingredient is absorbed by the skin in the area where the ointment is applied. However, its effect is restricted to the specific area and the skin cannot absorb particularly large amounts of the ingredient.

Topical application of skin patch (Capsaicin patch 8%)

Topical application can even be performed using a capsaicin skin patch, which is also applied directly to the skin. These capsaicin-rich patches are often applied after the administration of a local anesthetic. Depending on the part of the body where they are applied, they stay on the skin for about 60 minutes during the therapy before being removed; then, the skin is cleansed. If needed, this procedure is repeated 12 weeks after the initial therapy.

Capsaicin Treatment

There are two ways to apply capsaicin as a pain medication: either by using it locally or taking it as a nutritional supplement.

Indications for capsaicin treatment

Capsaicin is used to treat the symptoms of peripheral neuropathic pain.
Applying capsaicin can help manage chronic pain in conditions such as:
• Post-operative pain (e.g., thoracotomies, mastectomies, inguinal hernias, etc.)
• Various joint diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
• Postherpetic neuralgia
• Diabetes-related neuropathic pain or peripheral diabetic neuropathy