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.