AskDefine | Define topical

Dictionary Definition

topical adj
1 pertaining to the surface of a body part; "a drug for topical (or local) application"; "a topical anesthesia"
2 of or relating to or arranged by topics; "a detailed record on both a chronological and a topical basis"
3 of interest at the present time; "a topical reference"; "a topical and timely study of civil liberty"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Of current interest; contemporary.
    ''Fair trade has become quite a topical subject.
  2. local to a particular place
  3. medicine not comparable Applied to a localized part of the body.
  4. Arranged according to topic or theme; thematic.



  1. A topical anaesthetic.

Extensive Definition

In medicine, a topical medication is applied to body surfaces such as the skin or mucous membranes, for example the vagina, throat, penis, eyes and ears.
Some hydrophobic chemicals such as steroid hormones can be absorbed into the body after being applied to the skin in the form of a cream, gel or lotion. Transdermal patches have become a popular means of administering some drugs for birth control, hormone replacement therapy, and prevention of motion sickness.
In dentistry, a topical medication may also mean one that is applied to the surface of teeth.
Chloramphenicol is an example of an antibiotic that may be used topically.


topical in German: Topische Anwendung
topical in Chinese: 外用

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

actual, as is, being, confined, contemporaneous, contemporary, current, existent, existing, extant, fresh, geographically limited, immanent, immediate, instant, insular, latest, limited, local, localized, modern, new, of a place, parochial, present, present-age, present-day, present-time, provincial, running, superficial, that be, that is, thematic, timely, up-to-date, up-to-the-minute, vernacular
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