Posts Tagged ‘itching’

Skin-numbing products: Words of caution

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

cream-thumbOuch! Nobody likes pain, soreness or itching. We want relief, and we want it fast.

Many of us have tried skin-numbing products. We may use them in advance to prevent discomfort. For instance, some women have spread them on the skin before laser hair removal. When used properly, these items work and are safe.

A lot of these products, also called topical anesthetics, are available at the local drug store. For some, you need a prescription. Many of them come in the form of creams, ointments or gels.

These products contain anesthetics such as lidocaine, tetracaine, benzocaine, and prilocaine. When applied to the skin, these anesthetics can be absorbed into the blood stream and cause health risks.

Because two women died after using skin-numbing products before laser hair removal, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning. Here are the FDA’s recommendations:

* Don’t apply these products over large areas of skin.

* Use the lowest strength and the smallest amount possible.

* Don’t apply skin-numbing products to broken or irritated skin.

* Don’t wrap or cover the treated skin with plastic wrap, bandages or other materials.

* Don’t put a heating pad on the skin that you’ve treated.

Of course, if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t use any medication (over-the-counter or prescription) without first talking to your health care provider. And if anyone is using a prescription product, read the instructions carefully.

To learn more from the FDA, click here. Note: This warning from the FDA does not apply to products that contain camphor, menthol or arnica.