Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
What are Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (often abbreviated to NSAIDs) are creams, gels, rubs, solutions or sprays that contain a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent and are designed to be applied directly to the skin overlying a painful joint or area of bone. They are used to relieve pain and to treat symptoms of arthritis such as inflammation, swelling, and stiffness. Topical NSAIDs may also be used in the treatment of actinic keratosis (a precancerous patch of thick, scaly or crusted skin).
NSAIDs have anti-inflammatory (reduce inflammation), analgesic (relieve pain) and antipyretic (lower temperature) effects. Although different NSAIDs have different structures, they all work by blocking cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes. There are two main types of COX enzymes: COX-1 and COX-2. Both types produce prostaglandins; however, the main function of COX-1 enzymes is to produce baseline levels of prostaglandins that activate platelets and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, whereas COX-2 enzymes are responsible for releasing prostaglandins after infection or injury. Prostaglandins have a number of different effects, one of which is to regulate inflammation. Most NSAIDs inhibit both enzymes, although a few are available that mainly inhibit COX-2. The pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs are mainly due to inhibition of COX-2, and their unwanted side effects are largely due to inhibition of COX-1.
Topical NSAIDs are less likely than oral NSAIDs to cause gastrointestinal side effects or to interact with other medications, although elderly people may be more susceptible to these effects. Short-lived, mild redness at the site of application is the most commonly reported side effect.