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Pennsaid Side Effects

Generic Name: diclofenac topical

Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug diclofenac topical. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Pennsaid.

For the Consumer

Applies to diclofenac topical: topical application cream, topical application gel/jelly, topical application patch extended release, topical application solution

As well as its needed effects, diclofenac topical (the active ingredient contained in Pennsaid) may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

Severity: Major

If any of the following side effects occur while taking diclofenac topical, check with your doctor immediately:

More common:
  • Application site reactions, including skin rash, pain, tingling, or burning sensation
  • flu-like syndrome (body ache, headache, fever, with or without chills)
  • itching skin
Less common or rare:
  • Blood in the urine
  • cough
  • dry, itching, or burning eyes
  • eye pain
  • headaches, including migraines
  • increased sensitivity of the skin
  • nasal congestion
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • redness of the skin
  • redness or swelling of the eyes
  • skin rash other than at the application site
  • sore throat
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing
  • ulcers or sores on the skin, other than at the application site

Severity: Minor

Some diclofenac topical side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common:
  • Burning skin
  • dry skin
  • scaly skin
  • thickened skin
  • tingling skin
Less common:
  • Acne
  • back pain
  • belching
  • bleeding skin
  • chest pain
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • joint pain
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loss or thinning of the hair
  • muscle pain
  • neck pain
  • runny nose
  • stomach upset or pain

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to diclofenac topical: topical cream, topical film extended release, topical gel, topical solution


Local application site reactions have been reported in 75% to 86% of patients and have included rash (35% to 36%), pruritus (31% to 52%), dry skin (25% to 27%), contact dermatitis (19% to 33%), pain (15% to 26%), paresthesia (8% to 20%), exfoliation (6% to 24%), vesiculobullous rash (4%), edema (3% to 4%), hyperesthesia (3%), photosensitivity reaction (3%), acne (1%), alopecia (1% to 2%), erythema (less than 1%), irritation (less than 1%), and papules (less than 1%).

The gel vehicle has also been associated with a high incidence of application site reactions (71% to 86%), including pruritus (45% to 59%), pain (22% to 30%), rash (17% to 20%), dry skin (12% to 17%), exfoliation (4% to 13%), and paresthesia (4% to 20%). Other local reactions have included skin carcinoma, hypertonia, lacrimation disorder, maculopapular rash, purpuric rash, skin hypertrophy, and vasodilation in less than 1% of patients.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects have included pruritus (4%), rash (2% to 4%), dry skin (3%), contact dermatitis (2%), pain (1% to 2%), skin carcinoma (2%), and skin ulcer (1% to 2%). Other dermatologic side effects have included skin hypertrophy, paresthesia, seborrhea, urticaria in less than 1% of patients, and skin discoloration. The gel vehicle has been associated with acne (1% to 2%), herpes simplex (2%), maculopapular rash (2%), and skin nodule (2%).[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects have included hypertension (1% to 2%), migraine (1%), and palpitation. The gel vehicle has been associated with phlebitis (2%).[Ref]


Endocrine side effects have included hyperglycemia (greater than 1%).[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects have included dyspepsia (2% to 3%), diarrhea (2%), abdominal pain (1% to 2%), dry mouth, gastroenteritis, mouth ulceration, nausea, rectal hemorrhage, and ulcerative stomatitis. The gel vehicle has been associated with constipation (2%).[Ref]


Genitourinary side effects have included hematuria (2%).[Ref]


Hepatic side effects have included elevations in serum transaminases in up to 15% of patients as well as rare cases of hepatitis, jaundice, and fatal fulminant hepatitis. Liver injury is most likely to occur in older females in the first 6 months of use.[Ref]


Immunologic side effects have included infection and flu syndrome (greater than 1%).[Ref]


Metabolic side effects have included increased creatine phosphokinase (4%), increased SGOT (3%), increased SGPT (2%), increased creatinine (2%), hypercholesterolemia (1%), hyperglycemia (1%), and creatinine increased. The gel vehicle has been associated with edema (2%).[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects have included myalgia (2 to 3%), arthralgia (2%), arthrosis (2%), and leg cramps.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included headache (7%), hypokinesia (2%), depression, dizziness, drowsiness, lethargy, paresthesia, and paresthesia at application site. The gel vehicle has been associated with dizziness (4%) and anxiety (1% to 2%).[Ref]


Ocular side effects have included conjunctivitis (2 to 4%) eye pain (2%), blurred or abnormal vision, cataract, and eye disorder.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects have included asthma, dyspnea, pharyngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis, and sinusitis in 2% of patients.[Ref]


Renal side effects have included increased creatinine (2%).[Ref]


Other side effects have included flu syndrome (1 to 10%), accidental injury (4%), infection (4%), back pain (2 to 4%), asthenia (2%), neck pain (2%), pain (2%), chest pain (1 to 2%), ear pain, and taste perversion.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Solaraze (diclofenac topical)" SkyePharma, San Diego, CA.

It is possible that some side effects of Pennsaid may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.