Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Anaesthetic creams belong to the group of local anaesthetics. With the help of white cream, certain areas on the skin can be anaesthetised. This blocks the sensation of pain in the brain and treatments can be carried out without pain. Anaesthetic creams are used for various applications, such as tattooing, piercing, waxing, micro-needling or before surgical procedures.

With our big anaesthetic cream test 2021 we want to help you find the best anaesthetic cream for you. We have compared different anaesthetics with each other and listed the respective advantages and disadvantages. This should make your purchase decision easier.




The most important facts

  • A numbing cream is a white cream that you put on your skin. The layer of cream penetrates the skin cells and blocks the pain stimulus. This means that treatments can be carried out without pain.
  • In addition to numbing cream, there are also numbing gels, numbing sprays and numbing solutions.
  • Numbing creams are best for the skin. For the mouth and throat, gels or sprays are more suitable.

The Best Numbing cream: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should deal with before buying numbing cream

Before you buy a numbing cream, you will probably have some questions. We'll help you answer them in the following section.

What is a numbing cream?

A numbing cream is a local anaesthetic (medication for local anaesthesia) in the form of white, homogeneous cream. It is used to make certain areas of the skin insensitive to pain, i.e. to anaesthetise them.

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Most anaesthetic creams contain a combination of the active ingredients lidocaine and prilocaine. The effect sets in after a certain time, which can vary depending on the type of product. (Image source: pixabay.com / andreas160578)

In Germany, you can usually buy anaesthetic creams without a prescription. In Switzerland or Austria, the legal situation is different. It's best to check with your local pharmacy. Emla cream is often bought.

Depending on the type of treatment, there are different anaesthetics with different strengths. For example, there are creams that have been specially developed for tattooing.

Anaesthetic creams are also used for beauty treatments and surgical procedures. There are also special anaesthetics for the oral cavity.

What are the characteristics of numbing cream and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

As the name suggests, a numbing cream is a cream that is applied to the skin. The active ingredients of the cream are lidocaine and prilocaine, in equal parts. The cream penetrates deep into the skin layers and causes a blocking of the pain stimulus in the brain. With the help of the cream, the corresponding area can be temporarily anaesthetised in a controlled and targeted manner.

The advantage of the cream lies in its areas of application. It is used, for example, before surgical procedures and can also be used for painful beauty treatments and hair removals, such as micro-needling, microblading (a manual form of permanent make-up), lip injections or waxing.

Other possible uses include piercing, ear piercing and tattooing. The cream can also be applied to the affected area before vaccinations or blood samples are taken.

An anaesthetic cream has a certain application time, which depends on the drug in question. Some preparations take effect within a few minutes, while others take an hour to block the pain.

Advantages
  • Many applications
  • Suitable for the skin
  • Long-lasting effect
Disadvantages
  • Longer application time
  • Not suitable for the mouth

The duration of effect also varies. With lighter creams, the effect can wear off after as little as 15 minutes. Stronger creams work for between one and five hours.

The cream is not suitable for the oral cavity or mucous membranes, as these are very sensitive and require a special composition. A gel or spray is better suited for this.

What are the active ingredients in an anaesthetic cream?

As already mentioned, most anaesthetic creams contain lidocaine and prilocaine. These penetrate deep into the cells of the skin that signal the brain to feel pain. The cream causes a blockage of these cells so that the pain stimulus is switched off.

During this blockage, applications can be performed without pain. In contrast to a drug for ingestion, the pain is only lowered locally on the creamed area. In this way, the anaesthesia is controlled and targeted.

What are the alternatives to anaesthetic cream?

As already mentioned, the type of local anaesthetic depends on the type of treatment, i.e. which parts of the body are to be anaesthetised and for what purpose. For the surface of the skin, the use of cream is usually best. In the mouth and genital area, sprays and gels are more commonly used, as these have special medicinal properties that do not injure or irritate the mucous membrane.

A liquid anaesthetic solution can also be used. The common feature of these forms of administration for superficial anaesthesia is the active ingredient lidocaine, which cannot really be avoided.

In summary, there are the following alternatives to local anaesthesia:

  • Numbinggel: for the mucous membranes, especially the oral cavity and genital area (including the urethra)
  • Anaestheticspray: for the mucous membranes, especially the oral cavity
  • Anaestheticsolution: for the mucous membranes, especially throat, nose, mouth and pharynx

The dosage form that is right for you depends on the type of use. Depending on whether you need an anaesthetic for tattooing or microneedling, the oral cavity or the genital area, a cream, a spray or a gel is more suitable for you. In the following section, we would like to introduce you to the different anaesthetics and their uses so that you can find the right one for you.

What are the characteristics of a numbing gel and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An anaesthetic gel is a clear, colourless gel for anaesthetising the superficial mucous membranes. Due to its special composition, it can be used for the mouth and genital area, for example also for anaesthetising the urethra. The gel either also contains a combination of lidocaine and prilocaine or is based on lidocaine hydrochloride.

Advantages
  • Fast application time
  • suitable for the mucous membranes and mouth
Disadvantages
  • Relatively short effect

With the help of an anaesthetic gel, mucous membranes can be easily anaesthetised without damaging the sensitive skin. This means that dental treatments and other treatments on the mucous membranes, such as examinations with an endoscope or the insertion of a catheter, can be carried out without pain.

The gel takes effect within a few minutes. The effect lasts up to 20 minutes, which is usually enough for such procedures.

What are the characteristics of an anaesthetic solution and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An anaesthetic solution is a liquid for local anaesthesia based on lidocaine hydrochloride. The solution is used for surface anaesthesia in the mouth and throat, especially in the medical field. The solution can be used to anaesthetise the oral cavity and the throat superficially.

It is used for operations in the throat and nasal area, for tissue removal from the oral cavity and pharynx, for endoscopies of the trachea and lungs or for X-rays of the respiratory tract.

Advantages
  • Fast application time
  • suitable for the mouth and throat
Disadvantages
  • Short-acting

The exposure time is one to five minutes. The anaesthetic lasts for about 15 to 30 minutes.

What are the characteristics of a numbing spray and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A numbing spray can also be used to numb the oral cavity. This is based on the active ingredient lidocaine and is administered with a spray. It is mainly used in dentistry for superficial anaesthesia in the oral cavity.

Advantages
  • Very fast application time
  • Suitable for the mouth
  • Flavour
Disadvantages
  • Very short effect

The spray acts particularly quickly, within one to three minutes. The effect time is 10 to 15 minutes. The anaesthetic spray is therefore very suitable for dental treatments and minor surgical procedures in the mouth.

The spray also has a special flavour, such as banana, and therefore has a pleasant taste.

What are the side effects of anaesthetic cream?

You should always read the package leaflet carefully before you use it. The side effects are listed in the instructions for use of the product. Side effects may or may not occur. If you notice any undesirable effects, you should consult a doctor immediately.

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Possible side effects may include a rash, swelling, itching, irritation or redness of the skin, or water retention in the tissues. (Image source: pixabay.com / nastya_gepp)

Possible side effects may include a rash, swelling, itching, irritation or redness of the skin, or water retention in the tissues.

Allergic reactions cannot be ruled out either. A tingling sensation or an increased feeling of warmth in the area where the cream is applied can also occur.

Can I use a numbing cream while breastfeeding?

You should discuss the use of a numbing cream during pregnancy and breastfeeding with your doctor beforehand.

Normally, the active ingredients lidocaine and prilocaine are in very low doses, but they pass into breast milk and the placenta. You should always seek medical advice before using them!

What should I pay attention to when using a numbing cream?

Please read the instructions for the numbing cream and ask your doctor or pharmacist before using it.

You should not use numbing cream if you are hypersensitive to the active ingredients lidocaine and prilocaine. In addition, the cream should not be used if you have any illnesses or surgical procedures in the ear canal.

In general, you should not apply the cream to open wounds, abrasions or rashes. Patients with neurodermatitis should not use the cream without a doctor's consent.

Patients suffering from cardiac arrhythmias should also seek medical advice before use. The cream should also not be used in cases of methaemoglobinaemia (blood formation disorder).

Caution is also advised in children. Children under 12 years of age should not be treated with numbing cream on the genital mucosa. In infants up to one year of age, the cream should not be applied at the same time as medicines that promote the formation of methaemoglobin (e.g. sulphonamides).

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate anaesthetic creams

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the possible types of numbing creams.

The criteria you can use to compare anaesthetics include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what is important for each criterion.

Area of application

First of all, you should be clear about what you need the anaesthetic cream for. This determines the form of anaesthesia.

For superficial anaesthesia of the skin, for example for tattooing or medical procedures, a cream that you spread on the corresponding skin area is suitable.

If you want to numb a spot in the mouth, we recommend a numbing gel, spray or liquid solution. These are specially formulated for use on the mucous membrane. The following table shows which type of anaesthetic is best for which application.

Name Area of application Exposure time
Emla cream, Anesderm cream, Emulus cream Skin and genitals 1 - 5 hours
TKTX cream Skin especially for tattoos depending on strength, a few hours
Dynexan mouth gel Oral mucosa, gums and lips 1 hour
Xylocaine gel mucous membranes and urethra 5 minutes
Xylocaine pump spray dental oral cavity a few minutes
ACOIN solution throat, nose, mouth, pharynx, airways 1 - 5 minutes

Active substance

Lidocaine is an active ingredient for local anaesthesia and belongs to the group of local anaesthetics for the prevention and treatment of pain. It is contained in all the anaesthetics listed here.

  • Lidocaine and prilocaine: There are products that contain a combination of lidocaine and prilocaine .Prilocaine is also a local anaesthetic. In an anaesthetic cream, both are contained in the same ratio, for example 25 mg lidocaine to 25 mg prilocaine. The exception here are special anaesthetic creams for tattooing, whose composition of active ingredients differs depending on the brand.
  • Lidocaine: An anaesthetic spray, for example, is composed of lidocaine alone. It is administered with a spray and works within a few minutes. The spray is a very popular option for local anaesthesia, especially in dentistry.
  • Lidocaine hydrochloride: Lidocaine hydrochloride, furthermore, is a component of anaesthetic gels or anaesthetic solutions. Lidocaine hydrochloride consists of lidocaine and hydrochloride. Hydrochlorides are salts formed by the chemical reaction of organic bases with hydrochloric acid. This substance is very easily soluble in water. Mouth gels or sprays are particularly suitable for anaesthetising the genital mucosa and in the mouth and throat area.

Application time

The time of action also depends on the type of anaesthetic. You should read about the duration of action and the exposure time in the package leaflet and make sure you stick to them.

Some numbing creams work after a few minutes, but most take about an hour to achieve the desired numbing effect. The effect can wear off after as little as 15 minutes. Stronger creams work for up to five hours.

An anaesthetic solution takes up to five minutes to work. After that, the anaesthetic lasts for 15 or 30 minutes.

The anaesthetic gel works within a few minutes. The duration of effect is 20 minutes, which is usually sufficient for medical procedures.

The anaesthetic spray is absorbed most quickly, namely after a maximum of three minutes. However, the spray only works for a very short time, 10 to 15 minutes.

Amount

You can find out how much of each anaesthetic you need to use in the package leaflet. In this section, we will tell you how much of each type of local anaesthetic is available on the market.

The anaesthetic cream is sold in different sizes or quantities.

You can get them in 5 g, 25 g or 30 g, such as Emla, Emulus or Andesderm. Tattoo numbing creams are also available in 10 g, for example from TKTX.

Anaesthetic gels are available in 10 g or 30 g, such as Xylocaine gel or Dynexan mouth gel.

Sprays and solutions for local anaesthesia are usually packaged in 50 ml bottles.

Facts worth knowing about anaesthetic cream

How do I use and dose anaesthetic cream?

The exact application and dosage of anaesthetic cream should be taken from the instructions for use. You should also be sure to observe the exposure time and the duration of action.

Depending on the manufacturer, you should leave the cream on for at least one hour.

For application to the skin, apply a thick layer of the white cream to the affected area. Do not rub the cream or apply it to open wounds. For optimal effect, the cream layer must remain in place.

It is recommended to cover the area with the cream. A plaster is provided in the pack for this purpose. However, these do not always offer the best protection.

It is best to put a transparent sheet of Leukoplast or strips of plaster over the edges of the cream to prevent it from slipping.

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Children under 12 and babies need much less cream than adults.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Picsea)

Adolescents over 12 years and adults should apply about 1.5 g of cream to the skin area. For blood samples, a little more. Please refer to the package leaflet for more information.

How should I store anaesthetic cream?

Basically, you should keep the medicine out of the reach of children. You should avoid direct sunlight and storage above 25 degrees Celsius

Do not use the medicine after the expiry date. In addition, do not freeze the preparation and always close the opened packaging tightly.

Photo source: Shidlovski/ 123rf.com

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