Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning Zostrix. For additional information on using Zostrix, we recommend that you consult the Product Information page or Patient Information Leaflet available through pharmacies.



I heard topical non-prescription analgesic creams don’t work on relieving arthritis, diabetes & post-shingles pain. Is Zostrix any different?

Many topical analgesics use counterirritants such as menthol, methyl salicylate, and camphor, which temporarily “mask” the sensation of pain by causing the skin to feel hot or cold. Zostrix contains purified capsaicin, a natural pain reliever that has been shown to reduce levels of a neurotransmitter called Substance P. By depleting Substance P, Zostrix gradually relieves pain.

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I take an oral pain reliever to manage my arthritis pain. Can I use Zostrix as well?

When oral medicines do not completely relieve your arthritis pain, you can use Zostrix for additional pain relief. In well-controlled clinical studies, arthritis sufferers who used Zostrix as directed along with their existing oral pain medications typically obtained relief above and beyond that provided by oral medicines alone. People who used Zostrix as directed along with oral pain medications for arthritis had significantly greater mobility and were better able to perform daily activities, such as walking and driving, relative to those who used only oral pain medications.

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How does Zostrix differ from other chili based products on the market?

Zostrix contains purified capsaicin, while many other creams contain capsicum, capsicum oleoresin or capsaicin oleoresin. The last three ingredients are not the same as purified capsaicin. Capsicum and its oleoresin variants contain only small amounts of capsaicin.

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I heard from some of my friends that Zostrix “burns.” Is that true? If so, is it safe?

Zostrix has a long-established safety record. There are no known serious side effects with Zostrix or Zostrix-HP. However, some people do experience a burning sensation upon application, especially when they first begin to use Zostrix. This sensation is more common when using the triple-strength Zostrix-HP than the regular Zostrix cream. In most cases, any burning is transient and diminishes as Zostrix is used consistently as directed. As long as the burning sensation is tolerable and temporary, you should not be concerned

Here are a few tips to help minimize any burning sensation:

Do not apply Zostrix to broken, open, or irritated skin.
Do not bandage or tightly wrap the Zostrix-treated area.
Use only a small amount of Zostrix, enough to cover the painful area with a thin film of cream. Apply Zostrix regularly, 3 to 4 times daily. If you use Zostrix less often, you are more likely to feel burning upon each application.
Avoid applying heat to the Zostrix-treated area, especially immediately before or after application of Zostrix.
Avoid taking hot showers or baths, using a heating pad, and exposing the Zostrix-treated area to the sun.
Avoid activities that will cause excessive perspiration after applying Zostrix.
If you apply Zostrix cream by hand, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after each application, in order to avoid spreading capsaicin to the eyes, nose, or other sensitive areas of the body. For the same reason, some Zostrix users find it helpful to wear a disposable glove when applying Zostrix.

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One day last week the arthritis in my knee flared. I put Zostrix on that morning, and when I went to bed that night the pain was still there. Why didn’t Zostrix work for me?

You should expect gradual, not immediate, pain relief from Zostrix. Although some people notice a reduction in their pain within the first few days of using Zostrix, for most people it can take up to two weeks before they really feel significant pain relief.

Scientists believe that Substance P builds up around arthritic joints and sends pain signals along nerve pathways to the brain. By applying Zostrix regularly—three to four times a day, every day—you work to deplete the Substance P in the area. Over time, as Substance P levels fall, your pain diminishes.

Once relief occurs, it should be sustainable indefinitely as long as you continue to apply Zostrix three to four times daily.

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How many times a day should I apply Zostrix? And how long do I need to use it before I feel some results?

For maximum pain relief, Zostrix must be applied three to four times a day, every day. Relief may not occur, or may be delayed, if Zostrix is used less frequently than directed.

Because the depletion of Substance P takes time, you should expect gradual pain relief from Zostrix. The time required to achieve pain relief varies from individual to individual. Some people begin to feel the pain-relieving effects of Zostrix within the first few days, but most people have noticeable relief within two weeks of regular use. For optimal relief, Zostrix should be used as directed for four to six weeks

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I’m getting good results from Zostrix, but I’m worried that I may be using it for too long. Also, will Zostrix interfere with my oral medications?

There are no time restrictions on how long you can use Zostrix. Indeed, to maintain its effectiveness in reducing pain, Zostrix must be applied regularly, three to four times each day. If you stop using Zostrix once its effects have started to work, Substance P may build up again and your pain may return.

How do I remove Zostrix from my hand (or knee or elbow or hip)?

After application (unless treating hands), wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after application to avoid spreading cream to eyes or mouth. Do not use hot water.

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