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EMLA Cream (lidocaine and prilocaine) is a local topical anesthetic used to numb the skin during relatively minor cosmetic or health care procedures. It is frequently used both in medical settings and in the home. The cream is applied as-needed 1 to 3 hours prior to a painful procedure. Effects last around 1 hour.
An alternative to EMLA Cream is EMLA Patches, which can be used interchangeably if desired. Patches are sometimes more convenient for holding the medication in place, depending on the application site; cream can be held in place with a dressing if needed, but this is not as easy or convenient as a patch. However, patches can be quite difficult to apply to some areas of the body.
Both creams and patches are often used to numb the skin prior to:
EMLA Cream should not be used on patients under 12 years of age without doctor instruction.
EMLA Cream in the Home
EMLA Cream can be used in a variety of routine cosmetic or home health care procedures. It is important to note, however, that the medication can cause serious side effects if used improperly. The greatest risk is too much of the medication being absorbed into the bloodstream, which can happen if the medication is used:
In home health care situations EMLA Cream is often used on mucous membranes or broken skin. This should only be done with doctor instruction, however, to prevent potentially serious side effects. On intact skin there is little concern about side effects from EMLA Cream, as long as it is not used on very large areas of the body.
Numbing effects are dependent on the length of time the cream is left on the skin, usually ranging from one to three hours:
Administering EMLA Cream is fairly straightforward:
Care should be taken to avoid accidental injury to treated areas; injuries may not be noticed while the skin remains anesthetized.
Warnings & Side Effects
Patients with blood disorders or heart, kidney or liver disease should speak with a doctor about potentials risks before using EMLA Cream. Elderly patients should use with caution until effects are known, as side effects may be enhanced.
Side effects are rare if the medication is used properly, but some individuals do react adversely to treatment. If any negative effects do develop, remove the cream and seek medical attention if needed:
If the product is ingested by adults, children or pets, seek emergency medical attention.
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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.