What should I know about EMLA before using it?

Even though EMLA is a cream that is only applied to the skin, some may be absorbed into your bloodstream and can cause side effects. You should use EMLA as directed by your doctor and only for the procedure recommended by your doctor. Serious side effects have occurred when EMLA has been used without medical advice for cosmetic or other purposes. EMLA interacts with some medications, so be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, prescriptions, over-the-counter, herbal and supplements that you take. In particular, EMLA can interact with some heart rhythm medicines, such as bretylium, dofetilide, sotalol and amiodarone. Your doctor needs to know about your medical history before you use EMLA, especially if you or your family has any history of enzyme deficiency, methemoglobinemia, allergy to lidocaine or if you have liver disease.

EMLA needs at least one hour to become effective; it is recommended that you put the cream on two hours before a potentially painful procedure, to give the numbing effects time to start working. Do not put the cream on too soon, or leave it on too long, or there is a risk that some will be absorbed into the blood and cause side effects. Do not use more than necessary. Your doctor may give you a bandage to apply over the EMLA cream, but it is not necessary for the cream to work. Don't use any other kind of wrap or bandage, heat or any other method to try to get EMLA to absorb, or you could get too much and have side effects.

Be sure to watch a young child carefully to make sure the cream does not get in their eyes or mouth. Do not use EMLA near eyes or open wounds, or near your ears, as it may cause damage. EMLA numbs skin completely, so while your skin is numb, be careful to not get hurt from heat, cold, friction or other injury.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.