A topical medication can be applied directly to your skin and is available in several forms, including creams, gels and sprays. It’s often used to relieve localized pain, and typically classified into steroidal and non-steroidal categories.

Topical medication offers several advantages over oral medication such as pills, capsules and liquids.

Active Ingredients and Effects of Oral Medication and Topical Cream

Oral and topical pain medication, or analgesics, both block the effects of chemicals called prostaglandins that allow neurons to transmit pain signals to the brain. The primary difference between these two classes of medication is that oral medication affects the entire body’s sensitivity to pain, while topical medication only relieves pain in a specific area of the body.

Hydrocortisone is the active ingredient in many topical steroid creams. Common active ingredients in non-steroidal topical creams include acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen. Topical creams may also contain natural analgesics such as capsaicin, which makes chili peppers hot.

There are Disadvantages to Using Oral Medication on the Body

Oral medication must pass through your digestive tract and circulatory system before they can take effect, as opposed to topical cream that directly affects an inflamed area. Oral medication can therefore cause gastric upset in some patients, especially with medication such as ibuprofen.

The general effect of oral medication means that these drugs often become less effective over time due to the body’s tendency to compensate for their effects. Pills that contain opiates also pose significant long-term health risks in the long term since they can be addictive, and are therefore prone to misuse.

The Benefits of Topical Cream are Greater than Oral Medication

The localized effect of topical medication is making it a more popular method of pain relief than swallowing pills. These creams deliver their medication directly to inflamed tissue without affecting the body in general. They are more effective than oral medication for treating painful joints that are just below the skin’s surface, especially the knees and elbows.

Topical cream is also a common alternative to pills for inflamed tendons, sprained ligaments and compression neuropathy, a condition in which pressure is applied directly to a nerve. Some topical medication is specifically designed to relieve muscle pain.

Patients: The compounded medications are available by prescription only. Please discuss it with your physician, or contact us with your physician’s name and contact information, and we can supply him or her with additional information.

Doctors: Contact us today to speak with our pharmacists to discuss other combinations that may be available to improve your patient’s symptoms and increase medication compliance.

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