We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Some Different Kinds of Pain Relieving Creams?

By J. Beam
Updated Feb 28, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Pain relieving creams, also known as topical analgesics, are similar to other forms of pain relievers except that they are applied to the skin. Many different types are available over the counter for a variety of purposes, but relief from joint pain associated with arthritis is the most common use of these creams.

For pain relieving creams to work, they must contain a high concentration of medication that is capable of being absorbed into the skin and tissue. Topical pain relievers can be very effective at relieving site-specific pain and are preferred by many people to oral medications for such specific pain relief. Besides relief from joint pain, they may also be used to relieve pain from insect bites or stings, sunburn, certain types of headaches, and similar types of site-specific, body surface pain.

Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used most often for joint pain relief. Capsaicin and lidocaine are two drugs commonly found in pain relieving creams. Capsaicin, which found in hot peppers and is also a primary ingredient in pepper spray, is a medication that is capable of blocking the sensation of pain. It is primarily used in creams to provide temporary relief of joint pain from arthritis and mild sprains and strains. Capsaicin produces a heat sensation, which aids in blocking pain.

Lidocaine is another drug used primarily in pain relieving creams. It is a local anesthetic that works by blocking the pain signals at the nerve endings. Unlike capsaicin, lidocaine produces a cooling sensation and is thus often found in creams designed to treat mild to moderate sunburn and other skin irritations. Some pain relieving creams contain natural ingredients, rather than drugs. Camphor, menthol and eucalyptus are commonly found in a variety of topical treatments for sinus headaches.

Though pain relieving creams are relatively safe, there are certain precautions that should be taken when using them. Even over-the-counter varieties should be used according to the manufacturer’s directions and consumers need to be aware of any drug interactions listed. These creams should not be used on open wounds or broken skin unless a healthcare professional has advised it. Patients should also avoid using them in or near the eyes and mouth.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Jun 28, 2011

@wavy58 - Since Lidocaine Cream stops pain signals from reaching your brain, it can be used for a variety of problems on the skin and on the mucous membranes. The soreness, itching, general discomfort, and pain caused by conditions like eczema, minor burns other than sunburn, scratches, insect bites, and even hemorrhoids all can be treated with Lidocaine Cream.

When my husband accidentally splashed bacon grease onto my legs, Lidocaine Cream worked great for the pain. I have also used it on wasp stings and scratches given to me by my playful large dog. Yes, I lead a dangerous life, so I always keep that cream handy!

By wavy58 — On Jun 25, 2011

Lidocaine worked great at relieving my sunburn. I am curious as to what specific other skin irritations it would soothe. Does anyone know?

By kylee07drg — On Jun 24, 2011

@Perdido - After being bitten and stung multiple times, I asked my pharmacist what I could rub on an affected area to relieve the pain and itching. She told me that topical anesthetics and antihistamines provide rapid short-term relief, but hydrocortisone cream lasts longer, even though it takes longer for you to feel its effects. It will relieve itching, redness, and swelling. Hydrocortisone provides the same effects as an anti-inflammatory drug.

If you need quicker relief, you can use ibuprofen gel. It will ease the swelling and pain of stings, and it acts more quickly than hydrocortisone.

Another quick-acting topical drug is Xylocaine Gel 2%. It provides instant relief from pain and itching.

By Perdido — On Jun 22, 2011

I live out in the country near a wooded area and several ponds. We are surrounded by many types of biting and stinging insects. Can anyone tell me about some specific types of pain relief cream for insect bites or stings?

By anon188935 — On Jun 21, 2011

it is a very common problem people face in day to day life, so it is a very useful article to refer to pain relieving creams.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.