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What to Know About Skin-Numbing Cream

Skin-numbing creams work by blocking sodium channels, so the nerves that supply sensation to the skin can’t send pain signals. These creams may be used during cosmetic appointments, before minor surgery, before receiving a tattoo, or others times when the skin may be exposed to pain.

Skin Numbing Cream Uses
Because numbing cream desensitizes the skin to pain, it can be used for a variety of different applications, including:

To prepare an area for minor types of surgery
To relieve local pain such as in areas where tattooing or body piercing has been performed
To relieve severe itching such as from exposure to irritants like poison ivy
To relieve pain from dermatologic procedures such as dermabrasion, Botox, filler injections, and laser procedures
To minimize pain in hair removal procedures such as waxing or laser hair removal
To relieve pain from a minor skin injury, rash (such as dermatitis), or sunburn
Active Ingredients
If you’re familiar with skin-numbing creams, you’ve likely heard of lidocaine, the active ingredient in most brands. Lidocaine is very effective and has the benefit of providing quick results for pain relief.1 Lidocaine can be found in skin-numbing creams like Dermoplast, LidoRx, and Lidoderm.

Side Effects
Several different side effects may be caused by using skin-numbing cream, depending on the type you use.

Signs of an Allergic Reaction
Examples of side effects that may indicate an allergic reaction/medical emergency include:4

Blurred vision
Breathing problems
Chest pain
Rapid (or irregular) heart rate
Itching or rash on the skin
Swelling of the lips, face, or throat
Note, the above side effects require immediate medical intervention. If you have any of these side effects, call 911 or immediately go to a hospital emergency room.

Side effects that do not require immediate emergency medical intervention include:

A change in the ability to sense hot or cold
Swelling or redness on the skin where the cream was applied
This is not a complete list of side effects. If you have any other symptoms, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider.

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