Lidocaine

What is lidocaine?

Lidocaine is an anesthetic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines used to help with itchiness and pain caused by minor burns, scrapes, insect bites, and hemorrhoids. A topical anesthetic that is applied to the skin, lidocaine works by causing temporary numbness (loss of feeling) in the skin and surrounding tissues.

What is lidocaine used to treat?

Pain and itching associated with:

  • Minor burns, including sunburn
  • Minor cuts and scrapes
  • Minor skin irritations, including insect bites
  • Hemorrhoids and other anorectal disorders
Common brands containing lidocaine:
  • Aspercreme®
  • BenGay®
  • Gold Bond®
  • Icy Hot®
  • Preparation H®
  • Salonpas®
  • And store brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much lidocaine can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for lidocaine

Lidocaine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. When using this product, avoid contact with eyes and do not bandage or apply local heat (such as heating pads) to the area of use.

Ask a healthcare professional before use if:

  • You are under age 12 years.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not use if:

  • You are treating puncture wounds.
  • You are treating large areas of the body, or cut, irritated, or swollen skin.
  • Tamper-evident packaging features such as seals, locks, and films are not clear or seem broken.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • Your condition worsens.
  • Your symptoms persist for more than 7 days or clear up and occur again within a few days.
  • Redness is present.
  • Irritation develops.
  • If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.