Benzocaine is a topical analgesic (meaning it is to be used on the body surface or in the mouth but should not be swallowed) that has a number of different uses in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Depending on the dose and form, the active ingredient benzocaine can be used to relieve throat and mouth pain; alleviate external vaginal itching and burning; stop pain and itching due to hemorrhoids; and relieve minor skin irritations, pain, and itching. Because benzocaine is available in different doses and forms, it is important to read the Drug Facts label carefully to determine whether the medicine is intended to be used for the symptoms you are experiencing.

Benzocaine can be the only active ingredient in oral treatments that relieve sore throat or address mouth pain caused by cold sores, canker sores, teething, and other issues. It can also be combined with other active ingredients in oral treatments that not only relieve mouth and throat pain, but also protect irritated areas, provide a soothing coating, or relieve dryness.

While oral discomfort treatments containing benzocaine are intended to be used in and around the mouth, there are other topical benzocaine medicines that should only be used externally, or on the outer surface of the body, not near or in the mouth. For example, benzocaine can be found in vaginal medicines that contain more than one external analgesic ingredient or in single active ingredient hemorrhoid treatments. Benzocaine is also available in topical pain relievers that not only relieve skin irritations, pain, and itching, but also contain other active ingredients that kill germs and help prevent infection.

Benzocaine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. Some oral discomfort treatments can be used to temporarily relieve pain due to toothaches; however, these medicines are not intended for long-term treatment. If your toothache pain is severe or lasts for more than seven days, you should talk to your dentist.

  • You have a history of allergy to local anesthetics such as procaine, butacaine, benzocaine, or any other “caine” anesthetics.
  • Your condition worsens or does not improve within seven days.
  • Rectal bleeding occurs while using a hemorrhoid treatment.
  • You have deep wounds, puncture wounds, an animal bite, or a serious burn.
  • Your sore throat is severe or is accompanied by high fever, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Your symptoms do not improve within seven days, or if irritation, pain, or redness lasts or gets worse.
  • You experience swelling of the mouth or a rash or fever develops.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
  • Ask your healthcare provider before use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Oral discomfort treatments containing benzocaine are available in different dosage strengths. Read the Drug Facts label carefully for appropriate dosing information and consult a healthcare provider as directed.
  • Fever and nasal congestion in infants are not symptoms of teething and could mean your baby has an infection. Contact a healthcare provider if your baby’s symptoms do not go away.
  • Do not use an oral discomfort medicine on a teething infant for more than seven days unless a healthcare provider tells you to.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before using an oral discomfort medicine on a teething infant if the infant is under the age of 4 months.
  • You should not use in children under 2 years of age except under the advice of a healthcare provider.
  • Talk to a dentist or healthcare provider before using an oral discomfort medicine on a child under the age of 2 with a toothache or canker sores.
  • Do not give an OTC throat lozenge containing benzocaine to a child under the age of 5.
  • Children between the ages of 2 and 12 should be supervised when using an oral discomfort treatment for toothache.
  • Click here for more information on giving OTCs to children.