|Online since 2002|
Benzocaine is a local anesthetic and is the active ingredient in many OTC products used to relieve pain in the mouth and gums from a variety of conditions such as teething, canker sores, and irritation of the mouth and gums.
OTC benzocaine products come in the form of sprays, gels, liquids, and lozenges. There are many OTC benzocaine products sold under a verity of brand names. A partial list can be found here.
How does benzocaine Work?When applied topically to the skin and mucous membranes it interferes with the ability of nerves to both initiate and conduct electrical signals, which blocks the transmission of nerve impulses that carry pain messages. In this way, benzocaine numbs the nerve endings near the surface of the skin that it is applied to.
Before Using BenzocaineBefore using any medication, the potential risks must be weighed against the known benefits of the drug. Here are some of the points to consider:
Proper Use of Benzocaine
Use this medication exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not use benzocaine for any other reason without first checking with your doctor.
Unless otherwise directed by your doctor, do not apply this medicine to burns, open wounds, or broken or inflamed skin.
Because this medicine is readily absorbed into the body through the skin it may be more likely than other topical anesthetics to cause unwanted effects if it is used too much or too long.
Always practice good hygiene when applying topical medications: Wash your hands with soap and water before and after using benzocaine.
Keep this medication away from your nose, mouth, and especially your eyes, because it can cause severe eye irritation. If any of the medicine does get into these areas, especially the eyes, flush with water for at least 15 minutes and check with your doctor right away.
Check the package label carefully to see if the product contains alcohol, which is flammable. Do not use any product containing alcohol near a fire or open flame, or while smoking. Also, do not smoke after applying a flammable product until it has completely dried.
If you are using a spray form of benzocaine, do not spray it directly on your face. Instead, use your hand or an applicator (e.g., a cotton swab or a sterile gauze pad) to apply the medicine.
To use the pad or swab form, open the package according to the directions. When treating a bee sting, always remove the stinger if that is possible before using the medicine. Then wipe the pad or swab across the affected skin area.
If you are using the gel or liquid form of benzocaine use it only when needed, but not for more than four times a day.
The appropriate dosage of this medicine will be different for different patients with different conditions. Follow your doctor's instructions or the directions on the label. If your dosage is different, do not change it unless told to do so by your healthcare provider. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine.
The amount of medicine you use depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between applications, and the length of time you can safely use this medicine depends on the medical problem for which it is being used.
Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if there is any skin rash, burning, stinging, swelling, or irritation of the skin.
If the condition being treated does not improve within 7 days, or if it becomes worse, check with your doctor.
After applying this medicine to the skin of a child, watch the child carefully to make sure that he or she does not get any of the medicine into his or her eyes or mouth. Serious side effects can result if this medication gets into the mouth or is swallowed, especially in children.
Do not use cosmetics or other skin care products on areas of the skin that have been treated with benzocaine.
Along with the desired effects this medicine may cause some unwanted side effects. There are no common side effects are associated with benzocaine. However, less common side effects are listed below. You may not experience all of these side effects, or even any but if they do occur they may need medical attention and should be reported to your doctor.
A bluish color of the fingernails, lips, skin, palms, or nail beds is known to be a rare side effect of benzocaine.
The rate of Incidence is unknown on the following possible side effects:
Benzocaine may also cause a serious side-effect called methemoglobinemia; a severe allergic reaction on the skin, which produces large, red, hive-like swellings. Methemoglobinemia is a condition that occurs when something other than oxygen binds to hemoglobin in the blood stream, causing serious, life-threatening problems.
Methemoglobinemia may occur after using the spray, over-the-counter gel, or liquid form of benzocaine. The risk may be increased in infants younger than 4 months of age, elderly patients, or patients with certain inborn defects. This condition has occurred when patients receive too much of the medicine, but can also occur when even small amounts are used. Call your doctor right away if you or your child has the following symptoms after using this medicine: pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nails; headache; confusion; lightheadedness; fast heartbeat; shortness of breath; or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, direct light, and children. Keep from freezing. Do not keep this medicine inside a car where it could be exposed to extreme heat or cold.
Do not use this medication after the expiration date.
Safety Alert:The FDA reports a rare, but serious and potentially fatal adverse effect with the use of over-the-counter (OTC) benzocaine gels and liquids applied to the gums or mouth
On April 7, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public about the use of over-the-counter (OTC) products containing benzocaine, an ingredient used to reduce pain in the mouth and gums. Benzocaine use may cause a rare, but serious condition where the amount of oxygen that can be carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced. This condition is called methemoglobinemia.
The FDA is particularly concerned about the use of OTC benzocaine products in children for relief of pain from teething because of the serious outcomes, including death, that may be associated with methemoglobinemia, as well as the difficulty parents or consumers may have in recognizing the signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia when using these products at home. Furthermore, symptoms of methemoglobinemia may not always be evident or attributed to the condition.
Parents and caregivers should not use OTC benzocaine products on children under two years of age, except under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional. If benzocaine products are used, it should be used sparingly and only when needed, but not more than four times a day.
What should parents and caregivers do if they are currently using OTC benzocaine products on children who are teething?
A. Parents, caregivers, and consumers should not use OTC benzocaine products on children under two years of age, except under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional. Parents and caregivers using OTC benzocaine products on children should closely watch for signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia. These may include pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips, and nail beds; shortness of breath; fatigue; confusion; headache; lightheadedness; and rapid heart rate. In some cases, symptoms of methemoglobinemia may not always be evident or attributed to the condition. Symptoms usually appear within minutes to one or two hours after using a benzocaine product, and methemoglobinemia can develop after using the product for the first time, as well as after several uses.
Parents and caregivers that suspect a child may have methemoglobinemia should stop using the product and seek medical help immediately by calling 911.
What are alternative methods for reducing pain from teething?
A. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommends the following for treating teething pain:
If these methods do not provide relief from teething pain, consumers should contact a healthcare professional to identify other treatments.
OTC Products that Contain Benzocaine
*This list is not all-inclusive
What, if any side effects does cetacaine pose if used after expiration date?
AskDocWeb: Cetacaine is a combination drug containing 14% Benzocaine, 2% Butyl Aminobenzoate, and 2% Tetracaine Hydrochloride. Since using any medication after it has expired is not recommended, very little is known or published about the effect of using it past that date.
The most likely side effects are paleness (37%), erythema (30%) abnormal redness of the skin resulting from dilation of blood vessels (as in sunburn or inflammation), burning sensation (17%), and edema (10%), which is swelling from excessive accumulation of serous fluid in tissue.
Read more feedback about Benzocaine.
Last post June 19, 2015
If you find this page useful share it with others. If you have used Benzocaine, use the form below to share your advice or suggestions that may help others. Please note that all addresses are held confidential.
Thanks for stopping by.
This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright © 2010-2015 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Benzocaine and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use this information as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.