Over-the-Counter Skin Numbing Creams

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You have a few options for numbing small areas of skin. (Image: iprogressman/iStock/GettyImages)

Whether you're considering a new tattoo or planning a trip to the spa for electrolysis, you might be wondering if there is a way to minimize the pain you're about to experience.

The good news is, there are several over-the-counter topical anesthetics that help numb the pain of certain medical procedures and treat minor discomforts and itching.

While not as powerful as prescription skin numbing creams, these over-the-counter topical anesthetics are easy to find at your local pharmacy or grocery store.

Lidocaine Creams

Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that helps deaden the nerve endings in your skin, which causes temporary numbness in the area to which it is applied. It can be found in many over-the-counter skin numbing creams.

When using lidocaine cream, make sure to only use the amount you need and wash your hands after applying the cream to your skin. Lidocaine creams should also be applied to smaller areas of your body. Some of the more common creams that contain lidocaine include LMX, and Lidocaine Plus Maximum.

Benzocaine

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that works by blocking nerve signals in your body. One commonly used over-the-counter skin numbing cream that contains benzocaine is Orajel. This topical anesthetic product is intended to numb skin within the mouth. Although often marketed as a gel, this medication is also available in a cream form.

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

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.

Topracin

Topracin cream contains herbal ingredients, such as belladonna and echinacea, rather than chemical pain relievers. The Topracin company claims that the medication is a homeopathic topical remedy that is thought to work by helping the body balance its own healing chemistries.

As with any OTC product, you may experience side-effects when using on your skin. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns prior to using an over-the-counter cream.

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