Journal article Open Access

Topical antacid therapy for capsaicin-induced dermal pain: a poison center telephone-directed study

Kim-Katz, Susan Y.; Anderson, Ilene B.; Kearney, Thomas E.; MacDougall, Conan; Hudmon, Karen S.; Blanc, Paul D.


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    <subfield code="a">Abstract
Purpose: The study aimed to assess the effects of topical antacids for treatment of capsaicin-induced dermal pain after exposure to capsaicin containing hot peppers, personal protection sprays, or topical creams.
Procedures: Participants of the study were California Poison Control System (CPCS) hotline callers 12 years or older with dermal pain from exposure to capsaicin-containing products or plants. Participants were instructed to apply a topical antacid and assessed for perceived pain (using a 0-10 scale) pre- and post treatment. A positive response was defined as a sustained reduction of pain 33% or more within 30 minutes or achieving a pain score of 0 to 1.
Main findings: Of 93 eligible patients, 64 applied antacids and had outcome data available. Patients contacted the CPCS a median of 1 hour post exposure with a median initial pain score of 7.5/10. Thirty-six (56%) were exposed to unrefined (natural) peppers and 28 (44%) to refined capsaicin (eg, capsaicin-containing cream). Before calling the CPCS, 57 (89%) attempted at least one treatment. Forty-five (70%) reported positive response to antacid treatment as a 33% reduction in pain in 30 minutes (n = 17), a reduction in pain to a score of 0 to 1 (n = 3), or both (n = 25). A 33% reduction in pain within 30 minutes was associated with exposure to refined capsaicin (odds ratio, 3.37; 95% confidence interval, 0.98-11.66). Concomitant refined capsaicin exposure and early treatment (b1 hour of symptoms) was associated with even greater odds of response (odds ratio, 5.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-21.2).</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">10.1016/j.ajem.2009.02.007</subfield>
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