Capsaicin Cream (Zacin 0.025% or Axsain 0.075%)

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-887/2023
  • Departments: Pain Medicine, Pharmacy
  • Last Updated: 1 March 2023


This leaflet is a summary of some information, which may be of help to you. Always check with the manufacturers information leaflet given with your medicine, which has more information.

This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your treatment.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet/booklet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team who has been caring for you.

What is Capsaicin and what is it used for?

You have probably been troubled by some symptoms; following discussion with your doctor he has advised the use of Capsaicin cream. 

Capsaicin cream is licensed for use in osteoarthritis (0.025%) or pain from Shingles (0.075%). It can also be used to treat other types of neuropathic pain.

This cream is prepared from an extract of peppers, so one of the side effects is a warm or burning type sensation when applied to skin.

Why do I need Capsaicin Cream?

This may reduce your level of pain and allow you to increase activity.

Can there be any complications or risks?

This can initially cause a sensation of heat to the skin or may cause a rash.

Instructions for use:

  1. Apply a pea sized amount of Capsaicin cream to the painful area and gently rub it in, so it is no longer visible. This avoids any excess being left on the skin which can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat or breathing difficulties in some people.
  1. Avoid contact with eyes, mouth, nose or genitals
  1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the Capsaicin cream (or use gloves to apply)
  1. The Capsaicin cream should be used regularly 4 times daily (with a gap of at least 4 hours between each application)
  1. Do not use Capsaicin on cut, raw, broken or irritated areas of the skin
  1. Do not use tight bandages on top of the cream
  1. If the ointment causes a very hot or unpleasant sensation discontinue treatment
  1. Avoid additional heat in the area where the cream is used e.g. do not use hot water bottles, hot baths or showers

Please read the information leaflet.  Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support.  There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this examination.

What happens afterwards?

The ointment should be discontinued if:

  • The capsaicin ointment has been used four times daily for two weeks with no reduction in pain (maximum pain relief can take up to 4 weeks)
  • You develop a skin reaction e.g. a rash.

You will be followed by a phone review appointment by a specialist nurse.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet please contact:

This leaflet was produced by the Pain Management Department, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and will be reviewed in March 2026

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