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What are the Different Uses of Lidocaine Cream?

By Jami Yontz
Updated May 17, 2024
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Lidocaine cream is an anesthetic that causes numbness only on the area it is applied to. It prevents electrical impulses, such as pain impulses, from traveling through the nerves to the brain. Lidocaine cream is used for numerous ailments and conditions or for preventing pain during procedures. Ointments which include lidocaine are more commonly used prior to having a needle injection, during a surgical procedure performed on the skin, to reduce pain caused by hemorrhoids, or to treat symptoms caused by skin conditions.

Many people use lidocaine cream prior to having a shot to reduce the anxiety and pain caused by the injection. People who have regular injections in the same area, or those undergoing chemotherapy treatments, usually experience more severe pain and tenderness at the injection site. Regular intravenous (IV) infusions will also cause severe tenderness. Chemotherapy patients with a port or portacath may benefit from applying the cream to the injection site one hour before they arrive at their physician’s office.

A lidocaine topical anesthetic is commonly used during cosmetic surgery and procedures that affect only the top layers of the skin. A physician may use lidocaine to numb the sensitive areas of the face before injecting collagen and other wrinkle-filler substances into the forehead, lips or cheeks. The use of lidocaine may help prevent swelling at the site of the injection. Lidocaine can be used by a physician before he removes warts or moles.

Pain caused by hemorrhoids and constipation can be reduced by using lidocaine cream. By applying the cream directly to the anus or on the tip of a suppository, the anesthetic will reduce pain and swelling. It can also help those with mucositis by reducing the pain caused by the inflammation of the digestive tract.

Some physicians will recommend using lidocaine cream if a person has pain caused by a burn, rash, sore, or insect bite. It can also be used to treat the symptoms of eczema. Lidocaine is used to treat patients with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), or pain from damage of the nerves caused by shingles.

Lidocaine should never be applied to open wounds or sores, and it should not by applied to infected areas. The cream usually begins working within the first 30 to 45 minutes, and the effects of the anesthetic can last for two days, depending on the dosage. Lidocaine cream should not be rubbed into the skin, and an occlusive bandage should be used to cover the cream and prevent the lidocaine from spreading to other areas of skin and from the person touching it.

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Discussion Comments
By anon993569 — On Nov 24, 2015

Lidocaine is very poorly absorbed through intact skin.

The cream that is used for anesthetizing intact skin contains lidocaine and prilocaine, another anesthetic agent. It takes quite a long time to work. EMLA (Eutectic Mixture of Local Anesthetics) is a common brand name in North America. It is quite expensive.

There is also a cream containing a mixture of lidocaine and tetracaine that will work on intact skin. The manufacturer claims it will work in about 20 minutes for certain things, but may take an hour for other procedures.

By ddljohn — On Jul 09, 2013

My tattoo artist applied lidocaine numbing cream on my skin before I got my tattoo. I was afraid of the pain, but the cream helped a lot. He even gave me the rest of the cream to apply at home for a few days. It definitely helped me get through those first days when my tattoo hurt the most.

Some people say that pain is part of the process, but I don't agree. I enjoy tattoos, but not the pain. I'm going to ask for lidocaine before my next tattoo as well.

By bluedolphin — On Jul 08, 2013

@alisha-- Yes you can, but only if the burn is not an open wound. If your skin has peeled from the burn, don't apply lidocaine cream on it. It will irritate the wound and make things worse.

But if the burn is minor and the skin has not peeled, then you can definitely put lidocaine cream on it to relieve the pain.

I burn my hand often while cooking too. I always apply a lidocaine ointment with aloe vera in it. It's great, it works within minutes.

By discographer — On Jul 08, 2013

Can I use topical lidocaine cream on a burn?

I burned my hand while cooking this morning and it hurts a lot. All I have at home is a lidocaine cream.

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