Meds and you

27 September 2013

Lidocaine and prilocaine

The combination of lidocaine and prilocaine is the active ingredient of Emla cream.


Lidocaine and prilocaine

The combination of lidocaine and prilocaine is the active ingredient of Emla cream (Nappi code: 86367-011, 038) & Emla patch (Nappi code: 840106-009).

General information
The combination of lidocaine and prilocaine is a local anaesthetic. Local anaesthetics are drugs that remove feeling and pain, and numb a particular area of the skin.

In South Africa this combination is registered for the treatment of numbing a localised area of the skin or mucous membranes prior to injection; numbing of skin prior to minor surgery of skin and mucosa, and numbing of the skin prior to cleaning/debridement of skin ulcers.

When applied to a large body area, do not leave on for longer than 2 hours to prevent systemic absorption.

Contact with the eyes should be avoided.

How does the combination of lidocaine and prilocaine work?
This combination works by temporarily blocking the pathway of pain signals along nerves.

Fast facts
Drug schedule: schedule 1
Available as: the combination of lidocaine and prilocaine is available as cream and a patch
What does it do? The combination of lidocaine and prilocaine is used for the numbing of a localised area of the skin, in other words to desensitise the skin prior to injections, minor procedures, or for relief of the local pain.
Overdose risk: low
Dependence risk: low
Is this combination available as a generic? yes
Is this combination available on prescription only? no

User information
Onset of effect: 10 minutes
Duration of action: several hours
Stopping this medicine: treatment with this medication can be safely stopped when no longer needed.
Prolonged use: indicated for short-term use only

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this on broken or inflamed skin.

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: this medication is safe for use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children under the age of 1 year.
The elderly: no special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases







skin rash




Drug interactions

No known interactions.

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Apply as directed, 60 minutes before procedure where feasible.

Interesting fact
Many tattoo parlours advise their patients to use this product prior to getting a tattoo.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.
Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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