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About lidocaine skin cream - Brand names: Denela, EMLA, LMX4, Nulbia

Lidocaine is a local anaesthetic. Using the skin cream makes your skin numb. It works by stopping nerves from sending pain signals to your brain.

You can use it before having blood taken or having a drip put in. Your doctor or nurse may also tell you to use it before having a small surgical procedure.

Lidocaine skin cream is available on prescription.

You can also buy it from a pharmacy to use before any cosmetic procedure involving a needle.

Some of the skin creams contain lidocaine mixed with other local anaesthetics such as prilocaine.

There are different types of lidocaine for other conditions, including mouth gels, throat sprays, suppositories and medicated plasters.

Find out more about using lidocaine for mouth and throat for mouth ulcers, teething or sore throat, or lidocaine for piles and itchy bottom.

Key facts

  • Lidocaine skin cream works quite quickly. Most people will start to feel a numbing effect within 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Only use the cream on undamaged skin. Do not put it on cuts or grazes.
  • Lidocaine skin cream is generally very safe. The most common side effects are itching and tingling.
  • Avoid scratching or rubbing the treated area of skin, or exposing it to extreme heat or cold, until the numbing effect has worn off.
  • If you buy lidocaine skin cream from a pharmacy to use before a cosmetic procedure, tell the person doing the procedure that you've used it.

Page last reviewed: 30 August 2022
Next review due: 30 August 2025