Topical Anesthetics

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Topical Anesthetic Creams Linked to Life-threatening Side Effects

On February 6, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Public Health Advisory warning of the potential life-threatening side effects of skin products that contain numbing ingredients. These products come as creams, ointments, and gels and contain drugs such as lidocaine, tetracaine, benzocaine, and prilocaine.

Applying large amounts of these products on the skin can result in high levels of the anesthetic ingredient getting into the blood causing irregular heartbeat, seizures, and even death.

The FDA has received reports of two women, aged 22 and 25, who died after applying topical anesthetic cream to their legs to lessen the pain of laser hair removal. The women followed instructions to wrap their legs in plastic wrap after applying the cream to increase the cream’s numbing effect. Both women had seizures, fell into comas, and subsequently died from the toxic effects of the anesthetic drugs.

Skin numbing products are widely used to numb the skin for many medical or cosmetic procedures. They may also be used to relieve pain, burning, and itching resulting from a variety of medical conditions. The FDA has approved many products for these uses – some must be prescribed by a doctor, while others are available over-the-counter.

Usually, topical anesthetics are applied by a trained medical professional in a doctor’s office. However, the FDA has received reports that the use of these products before a cosmetic procedure may not always be supervised. In these situations, the patient may apply large amounts of these anesthetics on their skin, which can potentially cause life-threatening side effects.

If you are planning to have a cosmetic or medical procedure on your skin, discuss the use of numbing creams with your doctor.

If you or your loved one has suffered an injury from a topical anesthetic, contact us today. Submit the form to the right and we’ll let you know if you have a case and if we can represent you.