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Profile of the capsaicin 8% patch for the management of neuropathic pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia: safety, efficacy, and patient acceptability

Authors Laklouk M, Baranidharan G

Received 16 April 2016

Accepted for publication 10 August 2016

Published 22 September 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 1913—1918


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Muhammad Laklouk,1 Ganesan Baranidharan2

1Department of Anaesthesia, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 2Leeds Pain and Neuromodulation Centre, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Seacroft Hospital, Leeds, UK

Abstract: Capsaicin is a naturally occurring irritant active ingredient found in hot peppers. It is a ligand for transient receptor potential channel vanilloid receptors, which are found in nociceptive nerve terminals in the skin. Initial exposure to topical capsaicin leads to excitation of these receptors, release of vasoactive mediators, erythema, intense burning, pain, and thereafter desensitization of sensory neurons resulting in inhibition of pain transmission. Capsaicin 8% has been licensed for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia pain in recent years. A single application of high-concentration capsaicin for 60 minutes for postherpetic neuralgia has been robustly evaluated. Capsaicin 8% patches are applied to the most painful areas of healthy skin and allowed to remain for 60 minutes. Treatment can be repeated every 90 days if the pain persists or returns. The patches are usually applied in specialist pain clinics where patients can be pretreated and monitored. Health care staff need to take certain precautions before administering these patches to avoid unintentional contact. Common adverse effects of the capsaicin 8% patch are transient mild-to-moderate self-limiting application-site burning, pain, erythema, pruritus, papules, swelling, dryness, and hypertension. To manage local pain from capsaicin application, the skin is pretreated with a local anesthetic such as topical lidocaine or an oral analgesic such as oxycodone for up to 5 days. A transient increase in pain is usually seen within 48 hours of patch application before the pain-relieving effect starts. Systemic absorption is minimal and clinically insignificant. The nature of administration and relatively high cost of capsaicin patches can significantly limit their use to a small number of patients with severe refractory symptoms. This review highlights recent evidence related to the use and effectiveness of the 8% capsaicin patch for Postherpetic Neuralgia and discusses its safety and side-effect profiles.

Keywords: capsaicin, efficacy, safety, tolerability, high-dose patch, postherpetic neuralgia

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