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 from 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 Is a Topical NSAID?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 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.

A topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is a medication a patient can apply to the skin around an area of inflammation such as a swollen joint. The drug has a quick mechanism of action and limited systemic side effects because it is concentrated around the area of pain and inflammation. Some topical NSAIDs are available at pharmacies and drug stores without a prescription, while stronger medications require an examination and prescription from a doctor.

NSAIDs are a large family of drugs that work by blocking enzymes involved in pain signaling. They also reduce fevers and can have an anti-inflammatory effect when they are taken in high doses. These drugs also come with some potentially serious side effects, including liver disease and gastrointestinal hemorrhage. A patient who needs high doses or must take medication regularly can be at risk of severe side effects, and a topical NSAID may be a good choice for pain management because of the reduced risk of side effects.

These drugs come in gels, creams, and sprays. The patient should clean and dry the skin before applying the medication in the recommended amount. Skin readily absorbs compounds through the pores, and the drug will quickly seep through the skin and start working on the area immediately below. The patient should notice a reduction in pain with a topical NSAID, along with less swelling and heat around the site.

Since patients do not take the drug orally, the topical NSAID will not come into direct contact with the gastrointestinal tract, and the chance of complications related to stomach irritation is limited. The liver's workload is also much lower. Some of the drug will reach the liver eventually through the circulation, but not in the high concentrations seen with oral doses. The topical NSAID offers pain relief with lower side effects and can be safer for the patient than oral drugs, especially if he has an underlying health concern like a preexisting stomach ulcer.

If a topical NSAID appropriate for a patient is available, a doctor can recommend it and provide information about dosing. It is important to be careful with dosing and to pay attention to signs of allergic reactions like rashes, skin flushing, and bumps around the application site. Patients should not ingest topical drugs and must keep them out of the reach of children and pets, both of whom can have a severe reaction to some NSAIDs, especially if they consume medications only intended for topical use.

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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

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

WiseGeek, in your inbox

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