Capsaicin In The Capsicum Plaster
When applied topically as a cream, ointment, gel, lotion or transdermal patch, capsaicin is thought to provide pain relief by temporarily altering the way the body aches.
01. Why do people use Capsicum plaster?
When applied to the skin, capsaicin appears to cause local sensitisation after a period of initial irritation.
Chili plaster is said to relieve pain caused by a variety of conditions including: back pain, gout, headaches such as cluster headaches, joint pain such as knee pain, neuropathy, osteoarthritis, post-herpetic neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, shingles, tendonitis such as tennis elbow, trigeminal neuralgia.
02. Benefits of topical capsaicin
Some preliminary studies have shown that topical capsaicin can provide a variety of health benefits. The following are findings from the available studies.
1) Chronic neuropathic pain
In a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2017, researchers investigated eight previously published clinical trials (involving 2,488 participants) looking at the effectiveness of high concentrations of capsicum plaster in patients with chronic neuropathic pain (pain caused by nerve damage), either from injury or disease) from the following conditions: postherpetic, menstrual pain, HIV-neuropathy, peripheral diabetic neuropathy.
The report showed that the few participants who took part in the patch reported that they had "a lot" or "very much" improvement after using the chili plaster. The previous review concluded that the data on low concentrations of capsicum plaster (containing less than 1% capsaicin) were insufficient to make any treatment recommendations and suggested that it was ineffective. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved high concentrations (8%) of chili plaster for the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia pain. Due to the initial pain and burning sensation, the patch is administered by a healthcare professional under local anaesthetic in a clinic or hospital.
In a report published in 2014 in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, medical experts evaluated the evidence for the use of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for osteoarthritis to provide guidance on the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. In the report, capsaicin was considered to be indicated for people with osteoarthritis of the knee only (rather than polyarticular osteoarthritis), who had no other associated health conditions.
3) Low back pain
For a 2016 report published in Spine, researchers took previously published trials assessing the effectiveness of herbal treatments (including capsaicin creams or plasters) in people with low back pain and found that capsaicin reduced pain better than placebo. However the authors noted that additional trials are needed to compare the treatment with standard therapy.
4) Other conditions
Topical capsaicin is also being explored for pruritus, cannabis eruption syndrome (a condition that may be caused by long-term cannabis use), pelvic pain and as a second-line treatment for vulvodynia.
03. Possible side effects
Studies report that local adverse skin reactions (such as burning sensations, pain, itching and skin redness) usually subside after one to two weeks of treatment in the early stages of treatment. High concentrations of chili plaster may cause pain, inflammation, coughing, swelling, redness and blistering of the skin, with the pain increasing for the first two days (usually requiring painkillers) and then slowly decreasing. People with cardiovascular disease are at greater risk.
If you have chronic neurological disease, consult your health care provider before using chili plaster. patients with HIV-neuropathy report diarrhoea, weight loss and throat infections after using high concentrations of chili plaster. The safety of long-term repeated applications of highly concentrated capsaicin is not known. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor. Burning sensations and pain when using high concentrations of capsaicin plaster are sometimes described as feeling like a "bad sunburn".
04. The following are some tips for using Capsicum Plaster
1. Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes when using capsicum plaster, then wash your hands thoroughly. 2.
2. Although people sometimes use gloves when using chili plaster at home, capsaicin can be spread through latex gloves. 3.
3. Capsicum plaster should not be used on open wounds or broken skin.
4. Care should be taken to avoid contact of the cream with other people, especially children and pets.
5. If you apply chili plaster to your feet, care should be taken to cover them to avoid contaminating the floor (and spreading capsaicin).
6. Cool dry packs wrapped in cloth are said to relieve the burning sensation that occurs after application. They should only be used for a short time to avoid damaging the skin.
Although not everyone responds to capsicum plaster, it can help some people manage pain alongside standard treatments. Capsicum plaster does need to be applied regularly and has side effects. Higher concentrations of chili plaster are applied in medical settings.
Although it does not need to be repeated daily, it can cause severe burns and pain in the first few days after application. If you are considering trying chili plaster or any other form of product containing capsaicin, consult your healthcare provider to see if it is right for you and to find out what to expect at the recommended dose.