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Somesthetic and Electrophysiologic Effects of Topical 0.025% Capsaicin in Man
  1. Francis O. Walker, M.D. and
  2. Stephen F. Lewis, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Neurology, Wake Forest University Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina


As a topical agent, capsaicin reportedly blocks pain without otherwise impairing sensation. Ten subjects underwent blinded, multiple-dose application of topical 0.025% capsaicin or control emollient to skin test sites in order to evaluate capsaicin effectiveness and toxicity. Clinical changes in somesthetic perception of pinprick, heat and cold developed, but neurogenic flare responses were unchanged. Clinical and electrophysiologic measures of large fiber and autonomic function were unaffected by capsaicin. This study indicates that 0.025% capsaicin is a safe topical agent with demonstrable clinical effects on small fiber function but not on large fiber or autonomic function.

  • Capsaicin
  • neurogenic flare
  • substance P
  • analgesia
  • autonomic testing

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