Topical anesthetics help numb the pain of minor procedures, such as electrolysis, and can help athletes manage muscle pain. Although the most powerful skin numbing creams are only available by prescription, you can purchase certain topical anesthetics over the counter at your local pharmacy. Always talk to your doctor before using a topical anesthetic, as adverse side effects may occur.
LMX topical numbing cream contains lidocaine which helps deaden the nerve endings in your skin. The cream is available over the counter, containing either four percent or five percent total lidocaine. The Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology recommends rubbing LMX directly into the skin and then applying a second, thick layer over the area and covering it with plastic wrap. LMX achieves its full effectiveness in approximately one hour.
Orajel and Ambesol
Orajel and Ambesol are two similar brands of topical anesthetic intended to numb skin within the mouth. Although often marketed as a gel, this medication is also available in a cream form. The active ingredient in both Orajel and Ambesol is benzocaine. Unlike creams containing lidocaine, creams containing benzocaine begin working immediately and provide rapid pain relief. Because you can inadvertently introduce harmful bacteria to your body by touching your gums and teeth, always wash your hands well before applying topical anesthetic within your mouth. Do not swallow any medication containing benzocaine
Bengay contains three active ingredients for pain relief: camphor, methyl salicylate and menthol. You can rub Bengay directly into non-broken skin for relief from arthritis and muscle pain. Bengay’s unique quality is its ability to not only numb the skin but the area beneath the skin as well. Methyl salicylate provides a warm sensation that, when countered by the cooling sensation of the menthol and the natural analgesic properties of camphor, provides minor pain relief
Never use more than the recommended dose of Bengay, as methyl salicylate is highly toxic. A 2007 New York Times report blames the death of a 17 year old Staten Island athlete on an overdose of sports cream due to her liberal use of a topical pain reliever containing methyl salicylate.
Topracin cream contains herbal ingredients, such as belladonna and echinacea, rather than chemical pain relievers. Because of this, the Topracin company claims that the medication is a homeopathic topical remedy, and safe for both small children and pregnant women . Apply Topracin by rubbing it into the affected area or using it with a bandage to alleviate the pain associated with small cuts and scrapes.