Influence of topical capsaicin cream on thermoregulation and perception during acute exercise in the heat

Alejandro M. Rosales, Marie Powers, Matthias J. Walters, Mark L. McGlynn, Christopher W. Collins, Dustin R. Slivka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Determine if topical capsaicin, a transient receptor potential vanilloid heat thermoreceptor activator, alters thermoregulation and perception when applied topically prior to thermal exercise. Methods: Twelve subjects completed 2 treatments. Subjects walked (1.6 m s−1, 5% grade) for 30 min in the heat (38 °C, 60% relative humidity) with either a capsaicin (0.025% capsaicin) or control cream applied to the upper (shoulder to wrist) and lower (mid-thigh to ankle) limbs covering ∼50% body surface area. Skin blood flow (SkBF), sweat (rate, composition), heart rate, temperature (skin, core), and perceived thermal sensation were measured prior to and during exercise. Results: The relative change in SkBF was not different between treatments at any time point (p = 0.284). There were no differences in sweat rate between the capsaicin (1.23 ± 0.37 L h−1) and control (1.43 ± 0.43 L h−1, p = 0.122). There were no differences in heart rate between the capsaicin (122 ± 38 beats·min−1) and control (125 ± 39 beats·min−1, p = 0.431). There were also no differences in weighted surface (p = 0.976) or body temperatures (p = 0.855) between the capsaicin (36.0 ± 1.7 °C, 37.0 ± 0.8 °C, respectively) and control (36.0 ± 1.6 °C, 36.9 ± 0.8 °C, respectively). The capsaicin treatment was not perceived as hotter than the control treatment until minute 30 of exercise (2.8 ± 0.4, 2.5 ± 0.5, respectively, p = 0.038) Conclusions: Topical capsaicin application does not alter whole-body thermoregulation during acute exercise in the heat despite perceiving the treatment as hotter late in exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103535
Pages (from-to)103535
JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Core temperature
  • Skin blood flow
  • Skin temperature
  • Sweat rate
  • Thermoreception
  • Transient receptor potential vanilloid
  • Sweating
  • Capsaicin/pharmacology
  • Body Temperature Regulation/physiology
  • Humans
  • Body Temperature/physiology
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Perception
  • Skin Temperature


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