Some topical treatments for itches, rashes, or muscle aches may contain salicylic acid, which can cause burning or irritation. Topical salicylic acid is a keratolytic (peeling agent) that causes shedding of the outer layer of skin and can create an artificial wound that may not heal.1 This acid is also used as an anti-inflammatory drug.
Capsaicin, however, has been found to decrease pain by reducing the chemical (substance P) that helps send pain signal through the nerves.2 Derived from the cayenne plant, capsaicin is hot when applied and therefore should not be rubbed on broken or irritated skin. Even with healthy skin, there may be some irritation or burning for a period of time before you can feel the therapeutic effects of capsaicin. But before you use this or any other product to help decrease the pain of neuropathy, talk with your doctor to determine which products are right for you.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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