Topical Medications

Topical medications are creams, ointments, gels, lotions or patches that you apply directly on your skin to provide relief from nerve pain and inflammation. The active drugs in these medications are absorbed through the skin and provide localized pain relief.

Two types of topical medications used to treat neuropathy pain are:


Local Anesthetics

Local anesthetics are used to treat localized pain. They work by numbing the area and blocking the pain where they are applied. Some local anesthetics are:

  • EMLA - A prescription cream that numbs the skin within an hour of application and lasts for a few hours.
  • Lidocaine patch (Lidoderm®) - A prescription patch that is applied directly to the skin to relieve nerve pain.
  • Over-the-counter products - Many ointments, creams and lotions are available to provide relief from mild pain symptoms.
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Nonprescription topical pain relievers (analgesics) -- which are rubbed on the skin -- are available to treat pain from neuropathy. These medications contain capsaicin (Capzasin-P®, Dolorac®, Zostrix® are brand names). A substance made from the seeds of hot chili peppers, capsaicin may reduce the ability of nerve cells to transmit pain messages to the brain. Capsaicin and other topical pain relievers provide temporary relief from minor pain located close to the skin's surface.