Your doctor has prescribed this treatment for you in order to treat your nerve (neuropathic) pain.
This type of pain is often described as burning, stabbing and aching or as being like an electric shock; there may be no apparent injury that is causing the pain. However, it may arise from an attack of shingles, or nerve damage following an accident, injury or surgery.
This page gives you information about Qutenza® treatment and answers some commonly asked questions.
What is Qutenza® treatment?
Qutenza® is a skin patch used to ease some types of nerve pain. The patch contains a form of capsaicin (the substance that causes chilli peppers to be hot) and can be used alongside your usual pain relief medicines. Qutenza® is given as a single use medication. The patch will be placed on your skin for 30 to 60 minutes and may make the nerves less sensitive to pain.
What does the procedure involve?
A nurse or doctor who has been trained in the application of Qutenza® will mark the painful areas on your skin with a marker pen. Any hair will be clipped using scissors (please do not do this at home before your appointment).
You should take your usual pain relief before the treatment.
The Qutenza® patch will be cut to fit the area being treated and up to 2 patches may be used.
The patch will then be applied and a bandage, film or dressing will be placed over the patch to keep it in place. If your feet or hands are being treated the Qutenza® patch will be left in place for 30 minutes. For pain elsewhere the patch will be left in place for 60 minutes. After this time the nurse will remove the patch and apply a cleansing gel to sooth the area. This will be left on your skin for at least 1 minute and then cleaned off with cool water.
It is very common for the skin to sting or become red with a burning sensation during and after the treatment.
Qutenza® can cause your blood pressure to rise. Your blood pressure will be checked regularly before the treatment and while you are wearing the patch.
If you experience severe pain, the area will be cooled or you may be given pain relief medication.
How soon will I feel pain relief after treatment?
Most people experience some relief on the first day of treatment, but it can take up to 2 weeks to get the full benefit. If you are still in a lot of pain after this time, please let your pain clinic nurse know. The contact details are at the end of this leaflet.
When shouldn’t I use Qutenza®?
You should not use Qutenza® if you are:
- allergic to capsaicin
- suffer from unstable or poorly controlled high blood pressure
- if you have had any recent heart problems
- if you are under 18 years of age
Where is the treatment done?
The treatment is normally carried out in the outpatient department. We have clinics running at Gloucestershire Royal, Cheltenham General and in Hereford Hospital. You will be offered the clinic location closest to your home address.
Before the treatment
Take your usual medication including your normal pain relief. Clothing over the site should be comfortable and loose fitting. Footwear should also be comfortable such as slippers or flip flops. Please allow 2 to 3 hours for your appointment. Feel free to bring a book or magazine with you.
- Do not breathe in or sniff close to Qutenza® patches. This may cause coughing or sneezing
- Do not touch the patch with your hands as it may cause burning and stinging
- Do not touch your eyes, mouth or other sensitive areas during the treatment
- Do not try to remove the patch yourself
The Qutenza® patch will not be used over broken skin or wounds.
Your nurse will wear gloves for the treatment, but if you accidentally touch the treated area before the cleansing gel is applied, please tell your nurse.
Possible side effects
The most common side effects of using the Qutenza® patches include:
- The skin becoming red and painful (stinging or burning). This is very common
- The skin becoming itchy with bumps, blisters, swelling and dryness
- Rarely, changes in skin sensations happen. This means that you may not able to feel, for example, something which is hot or sharp and is usually temporary
The cleansing gel used during the procedure may cause your eyes and skin to be itchy. If this happens, please contact your GP or the pain clinic nurse on the number at the bottom of this page.
Following your treatment
You can expect the treated area to be red and to feel a burning sensation at the site. This will get better over the next few days. During this time you should avoid having hot baths and showers or allowing direct sunlight to the area. You should also avoid vigorous exercise.
Cool packs wrapped in a towel or your regular pain relief will help with any discomfort.
Driving and operating machinery
You must not drive yourself home after the treatment, so please arrange for someone to collect you from hospital.
How often can I have the treatment?
Every 90 days (or 3 months), as needed.
Can I use Qutenza® if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you are pregnant, or think you might be pregnant, or you are breastfeeding, please speak to your pain consultant or pain nurse.
Tel:0300 422 2558
You may not get an answer, but please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible.
For urgent calls please contact your GP or the NHS 111.
You will find more information about pain relief on the Gloucestershire Hospitals website.