Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) applied to the skin as a cream to reduce pain and swelling may cause potentially lethal kidney damage.
Kidney damage is a well established side effect of oral and injected NSAIDs, often used to provide pain relief for arthritis and many other conditions. But doctors from the kidney unit at Guy's Hospital in London report two cases which show that even "topical" NSAIDs can cause serious kidney damage.
In one case, a 74 year old woman's kidney failure was traced to piroxicam gel a type of NSAID which she had been applying twice daily for pain in her shoulder.
Once the gel was stopped, "her renal function rapidly recovered so that 10 days later she stopped dialysis", said the Guy's Hospital report.
In the second case, a 57 year old woman suffered from kidney problems after applying a NSAID cream with 3 per cent benzydamine hydrochloride used to treat conditions like sprains and muscle pain for four months. Again, when the treatment was stopped, her condition improved.