Topical capsaicin has been found to be efficacious in several types of nerve pain including diabetic neuropathy and HIV neuropathy. Researchers attempted to determine whether topical periarterial capsaicin could ameliorate pain in absence of and during a migraine attack.
23 people with migraine headaches showing pain with pressure on scalp arteries received topical cayenne pepper cream (capsaicin 0.1% or Vaseline jelly on painful arteries in the absence of migraine headaches.
The same comparison was made during a migraine headache. The results found the topical capsaicin experienced greater than 50% reduction of arterial pain in that occurred without a headache. During migraine headaches of mild- to moderate-intensity greater than fifty percent improvement occurred in 11 of the 17 patients, and only one with Vaseline.
Conclusions: Although referring to a small number of patients, the data suggested that topical capsaicin may relieve arterial pain in absence of and during a migraine attack in a substantial number of patients experiencing scalp arterial tenderness.