Health Encyclopedia > Medications

lidocaine and prilocaine topical

Pronunciation: LY doh kayn and PRIL oh kayn TOP ik al

Brand: Emla

What is the most important information I should know about lidocaine and prilocaine?

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An overdose of numbing medications can cause fatal side effects if too much of the medicine is absorbed through your skin and into your blood. This is more likely to occur when using a numbing medicine without the advice of a medical doctor (such as during a cosmetic procedure like laser hair removal). However, overdose has also occurred in women treated with a numbing medicine before having a mammography. Overdose symptoms may include uneven heartbeats, seizure (convulsions), coma, slowed breathing, or respiratory failure (breathing stops).

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Your body may absorb more of this medication if you use too much, if you apply it over large skin areas, or if you apply heat, bandages, or plastic wrap to treated skin areas. Skin that is cut or irritated may also absorb more topical medication than healthy skin.

Use the smallest amount of this medication needed to numb the skin or relieve pain. Do not use large amounts of lidocaine and prilocaine topical, or cover treated skin areas with a bandage or plastic wrap without medical advice. Be aware that many cosmetic procedures are performed without a medical doctor present.

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Do not use lidocaine and prilocaine topical if you have had an allergic reaction to a numbing medicine in the past.

Before lidocaine and prilocaine topical is applied, tell your doctor if you have liver disease, a history of allergic reaction to lidocaine or prilocaine, or a personal or family history of methemoglobinemia, or any genetic enzyme deficiency.

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Lidocaine and prilocaine topical is for use only on the surface of your body. Avoid getting this medication in your eyes.

Avoid accidentally injuring treated skin areas while they are numb. Avoid coming into contact with very hot or very cold surfaces.

What is lidocaine and prilocaine topical?

Lidocaine and prilocaine topical is a local anesthetic (numbing medication). It works by blocking nerve signals in your body.

Lidocaine and prilocaine topical is used to numb the skin, or surfaces of the penis or vagina, in preparation for a medical procedure or to lessen the pain of inserting a medical instrument such as a tube or speculum.

Lidocaine and prilocaine topical may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my health care provider before using lidocaine and prilocaine topical?

Multum emt

An overdose of numbing medications can cause fatal side effects if too much of the medicine is absorbed through your skin and into your blood.

Overdose is more likely to occur when using a numbing medicine without the advice of a medical doctor (such as during a cosmetic procedure like laser hair removal). However, overdose has also occurred in women treated with a numbing medicine before having a mammography. Symptoms may include uneven heartbeats, seizure (convulsions), coma, slowed breathing, or respiratory failure (breathing stops).

Multum donot

Do not use lidocaine and prilocaine topical if you have a blood cell disorder called methemoglobinemia.

Before lidocaine and prilocaine topical is applied, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • a history of allergic reaction to lidocaine or prilocaine; or
  • a personal or family history of methemoglobinemia, or any genetic enzyme deficiency.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use lidocaine and prilocaine topical.

FDA pregnancy category B. This medication is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

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Lidocaine and prilocaine topical can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I use lidocaine and prilocaine topical?

Use this medication exactly as directed on the label, or as it has been prescribed by your doctor. Do not use the medication in larger amounts, or use it for longer than recommended.

Multum donot

Your body may absorb more of this medication if you use too much, if you apply it over large skin areas, or if you apply heat, bandages, or plastic wrap to treated skin areas. Skin that is cut or irritated may also absorb more topical medication than healthy skin.

Use the smallest amount of medicine needed to numb the skin or relieve pain. Do not use large amounts of lidocaine and prilocaine topical, or cover treated skin areas with a bandage or plastic wrap without medical advice. Be aware that many cosmetic procedures are performed without a medical doctor present.

This medication comes with instructions for safe and effective application. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

You should be lying down when lidocaine and prilocaine topical cream is applied.

Your medicine may have been supplied with bandages to cover the cream when it is applied to a small area on your skin. If using a bandage dressing, first apply a thick layer of the cream to the skin, taking care not to spread the cream out. Place the bandage over the cream and smooth down the edges until it is completely sealed around the cream.

Lidocaine and prilocaine topical is usually applied 1 to 2 hours before the start of a procedure that requires the treated area to be numb. Follow your doctor's instructions about the length of time the cream should be left on the skin.

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Store lidocaine and prilocaine topical at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not allow the cream to freeze.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since lidocaine and prilocaine topical is used as needed, it is not likely that you will be on a dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

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Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

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An overdose of lidocaine and prilocaine topical applied to the skin can cause life-threatening side effects such as uneven heartbeats, seizure (convulsions), coma, slowed breathing, or respiratory failure (breathing stops).

What should I avoid while taking lidocaine and prilocaine topical?

Multum avoideyes

Lidocaine and prilocaine topical is for use only on the surface of your body. Avoid getting this medication in your eyes.

Avoid accidentally injuring treated skin areas while they are numb. Avoid coming into contact with very hot or very cold surfaces.

What are the possible side effects of lidocaine and prilocaine topical?

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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Stop using lidocaine and prilocaine topical and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • severe burning, stinging, or sensitivity where the medicine is applied;
  • swelling or redness;
  • sudden dizziness or sleepiness after medicine is applied;
  • bruising or purple appearance of the skin; or
  • unusual sensations of temperature.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild burning where the medicine is applied;
  • skin redness; or
  • changes in skin color where the medicine was applied.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect lidocaine and prilocaine topical?

Before this medication is applied, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • heart rhythm medication such as mexiletine (Mexitil);
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol);
  • chloroquine (Aralen);
  • dapsone;
  • nitrates or nitrites such as Imdur, Isordil, Monoket;
  • nitrofurantoin (Furadantin, Macrodantin, Macro-Bid);
  • phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton);
  • primaquine;
  • quinine; or
  • a sulfa drug (Bactrim, Gantanol, Gantrisin, Septra, SMX-TMP, and others).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with lidocaine and prilocaine topical. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about lidocaine and prilocaine topical.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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