Many individuals and healthcare clinicians use topical numbing creams for a variety of reasons. Tattoo artists also use topical numbing products prior to tattoo and piercing procedures to reduce the pain from often very painful procedures.
Topical numbing creams and gels (also known as topical anesthetics) most often contain lidocaine, benzocaine, prilocaine or tetracaine. These active pharmaceutical ingredients (API’s) numb the skin by blocking neuronal transmissions of pain, burn and itch sensations to the brain. They all have the same basic mechanisms of action, however, some begin to work faster, while other last longer (have a longer duration).
Healthcare clinicians use topical numbing creams and gels for superficial needle insertion procedures, such as injections, blood draws and minor excisions. In the medical aesthetics field, dermatologists, medical aestheticians and laser technicians use topical numbing agents for Botox injections, filler injections, laser hair removal, laser tattoo removal, laser resurfacing and other medical cosmetic procedures. Medical clinicians and technicians also use topical numbing creams and gels for dialysis needle insertion, infusion port insertion and heart catheter cannula insertion. All of these are painful procedures and most often require some form of topical anesthetic numbing agent.
Topical anesthetics are also used to get relief from pain, burn and itch sensations caused by skin irritations, insect bites and stings, minor burns and minor skin injuries on intact skin. Most over the counter topical numbing creams are supplied to reduce the symptoms caused by these minor skin issues as well as poison ivy, oak and sumac. Use topical numbing creams only on intact skin that is free of blisters or open wounds and sores.
It is important to use topical numbing products only as directed by your healthcare clinician, such as your nurse of doctor. While these products are most often safe and effective when used properly, they can also cause serious healthcare related issues when not used as directed by an experienced healthcare practitioner or according to package inserts provided by the manufacturer.