What Is Capsicum Oleoresin?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Capsicum oleoresin is the name of the active ingredient found in cayenne peppers and chili peppers and is responsible for making these peppers taste hot. This ingredient is often added to medicated creams, lotions, and sprays in order to treat muscle or joint pain. It may also be used in pepper spray, a product designed to be used for self-defense purposes. Possible side effects of capsicum oleoresin include redness or burning at the application site or difficulty breathing or swallowing if the product is ingested. Any specific questions or concerns about the use of capsicum oleoresin or its possible side effects should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Many topical preparations designed to treat muscle or joint pain include capsicum oleoresin as a primary ingredient. Some of the specific ailments that may respond to treatment with this ingredient include muscle strains, sprains, or bruising. Pain or discomfort caused by arthritis may also respond favorably to the use of capsicum oleoresin. In some cases, nerve pain experienced by those with a medical condition known as shingles may be treated with a product containing this ingredient.


Side effects of capsicum oleoresin may include redness and irritation at the site of application. A mild to moderate burning sensation may be experienced by some people who use a product containing this ingredient. These symptoms usually lessen over time, but severe or persistent discomfort should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation. If this ingredient is ingested or inhaled, trouble breathing or swallowing may occur, often requiring emergency medical intervention.

Pepper spray usually contains a high concentration of capsicum oleoresin and is used as a form of self-defense. The pepper spray is normally aimed at the face of the attacker and may cause a variety of side effects. There is usually an intense burning sensation on the area of skin coming into contact with the pepper spray, and mild to moderate temporary swelling may also occur. If the pepper spray is inhaled, the attacker may experience choking, gagging, and coughing. This product is typically successful at making the attacker so uncomfortable that the victim is able to get away or the police are able to successfully restrain the assailant.

Those who are allergic to chili peppers or cayenne peppers should not use products containing capsicum oleoresin. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before using this ingredient. These products should not be used on damaged or broken skin and should be applied exactly as directed on the package instructions. The hands should be thoroughly washed after coming into contact with this ingredient.


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