Medically reviewed on November 17, 2017.
What is nitroglycerin topical?
Nitroglycerin is in a group of drugs called nitrates. Nitroglycerin dilates (widens) blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow through them and easier for the heart to pump.
Nitroglycerin topical (for the skin) is used to prevent attacks of chest pain (angina). This medicine will not treat an angina attack that has already begun.
Nitroglycerin topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Do not take erectile dysfunction medicine (Viagra, Cialis, and others) while you are using nitroglycerin topical, or you could have a sudden and serious decrease in blood pressure.
Before taking this medicine
if you are using medicine to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), such as riociguat (Adempas), sildenafil (Revatio), or tadalafil (Adcirca).
Do not take erectile dysfunction medicine (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Stendra, Staxyn, sildenafil, avanafil, tadalafil, vardenafil) while you are using nitroglycerin topical. Using erectile dysfunction medicine with nitroglycerin can cause a sudden and serious decrease in blood pressure.
To make sure nitroglycerin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
congestive heart failure;
anemia (lack of red blood cells).
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether nitroglycerin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
It is not known whether nitroglycerin topical passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How should I use nitroglycerin topical?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Nitroglycerin topical is usually applied 3 or 4 times daily. You may also need to wash off the ointment at a certain time each day. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully.
Nitroglycerin topical will not work fast enough to treat an angina attack that has already begun. Your doctor may prescribe an oral form of nitroglycerin (tablet, capsule, spray) to treat an angina attack. Talk with your doctor if any of your medicines do not seem to work as well in treating or preventing angina attacks.
Wash your hands after applying this medicine.
If you need to have any type of surgery or dental work, tell the surgeon or dentist ahead of time that you are using nitroglycerin topical.
Do not stop using nitroglycerin topical suddenly, even if you feel fine. Stopping suddenly may cause increased angina attacks. Follow your doctor's instructions about tapering your dose.
Store this medicine at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if your next dose is less than 2 hours away. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.
Overdose symptoms may include a severe throbbing headache, confusion, fever, fast or pounding heartbeats, dizziness, vision problems, nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, trouble breathing, cold or clammy skin, feeling light-headed, fainting, seizure (convulsions), or blue-colored skin, lips, or nails.
What should I avoid while using nitroglycerin topical?
Avoid using nitroglycerin topical on irritated or broken skin.
Nitroglycerin can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.
Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.
Avoid drinking alcohol. It can increase some of the side effects of nitroglycerin topical.
Nitroglycerin topical side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
worsening chest pain, slow heart rate;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out; or
pale or blue colored appearance in your fingers or toes.
Nitroglycerin can cause severe headaches, especially when you first start using it. These headaches may gradually become less severe as you continue to use the medicine. Do not stop using nitroglycerin to avoid headaches. Ask your doctor before using any headache pain medication.
Common side effects may include:
flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect nitroglycerin topical?
Other drugs may interact with nitroglycerin topical, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.01.
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