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Benzocaine

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Benzocaine is a topical analgesic (meaning it is to be used on the body surface or in the mouth but should not be swallowed) that has a number of different uses in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Depending on the dose and form, the active ingredient benzocaine can be used to relieve throat and mouth pain; to alleviate external vaginal itching and burning; to stop pain and itching due to hemorrhoids; or to relieve minor skin irritations, pain, and itching. Because benzocaine is available in different doses and forms, it is very important to read the Drug Facts label carefully to determine whether the medicine is intended to be used for the symptoms you are experiencing.

Benzocaine can be the only active ingredient in oral treatments that relieve sore throat or address mouth pain caused by cold sores, canker sores, teething, and other issues. It also can be combined with other active ingredients in oral treatments that not only relieve mouth and throat pain, but also protect irritated areas, provide a soothing coating, or relieve dryness.

While oral discomfort treatments containing benzocaine are intended to be used in and around the mouth, there are other topical benzocaine medicines that should only be used externally, or on the outer surface of the body (not near or in the mouth). For example, benzocaine can be found in vaginal medicines that contain more than one external analgesic ingredient or in single active ingredient hemorrhoid treatments. Benzocaine also is available in topical pain relievers that not only relieve skin irritations, pain, and itching, but also contain other active ingredients that kill germs and help prevent infection.

Benzocaine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to label directions. Some oral discomfort treatments can be used to temporarily relieve pain due to toothaches; however, these medicines are not intended for long-term treatment. If your toothache pain is severe or lasts for more than seven days, you should talk to your dentist.

*Benzocaine may not be contained in all products sold under these brands. Please read the OTC Drug Facts label carefully for active ingredient information for specific products.

Tips for Medicines with Benzocaine

When using oral discomfort treatments containing benzocaine, it is important to know that:

  • You should never take more medicine or for longer than what the label says.
  • You should not use in children under two years of age except under the advice of a healthcare professional.
  • You should not use lozenges to treat a sore throat for more than two days.
  • You should not use a medicine to treat toothache pain for more than seven days.
  • You should avoid getting the medicine into your eyes.

Do not use if:

  • You have a history of allergy to local anesthetics such as procaine, butacaine, benzocaine, or any other ‘caine’ anesthetics.

Ask a healthcare professional before use if:

  • Your child is under two years of age.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • Your sore throat is severe or is accompanied by high fever, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Your symptoms do not improve within seven days, or if irritation, pain, or redness lasts or gets worse.
  • You experience swelling of the mouth or if a rash or fever develops.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

When using topical vaginal medicines or hemorrhoid treatments containing benzocaine, it is important to know that:

  • These medicines are for external use only. If swallowed, immediately contact a doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
  • Do not apply to large areas of your body.
  • You should avoid getting the medicine into your eyes.
  • Certain people may develop an allergic reaction to the active ingredient benzocaine.
  • Hemorrhoid treatments containing medicine are intended to be used only on the outer surface of the lower rectum, or anus. Do not put inside the rectum.
  • Do not use more medicine than the label says or for longer than the label says unless a doctor tells you to.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • Your condition worsens or does not improve within seven days.
  • Rectal bleeding occurs (while using a hemorrhoid treatment).

When using topical pain relievers containing benzocaine, it is important to know that:

  • These medicines are for external use only. If swallowed, immediately contact a doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
  • You should not apply to large areas of your body.
  • You should avoid getting the medicine into your eyes.

Do not use if:

  • You have deep wounds or puncture wounds.
  • You have an animal bite.
  • You have a serious burn.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • Your condition worsens or does not improve within seven days.

If you have questions about any of the medicines you are taking or if you have any unexpected side effects, talk to a healthcare professional. And of course, keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

Tips for Parents

When using oral discomfort treatments containing benzocaine:

  • Oral discomfort treatments containing benzocaine are available in different dosage strengths. Read the Drug Facts label carefully for appropriate dosing information and consult a healthcare professional as directed.
  • You should not use in children under two years of age except under the advice of a healthcare professional.
  • Do not give an OTC throat lozenge containing benzocaine to a child under the age of five.
  • Talk to a doctor before using an oral discomfort medicine on a teething infant if the infant is under the age of four months.
  • Talk to a dentist or doctor before using an oral discomfort medicine on a child with a toothache or canker sores if the child is under the age of two.
  • Children between the ages of two and 12 should be supervised when using an oral discomfort treatment for toothache.
  • Do not use an oral discomfort medicine on a teething infant for more than seven days unless a doctor tells you to.
  • Fever and nasal congestion in infants are not symptoms of teething and could mean your baby has an infection. Contact a healthcare professional if your baby’s symptoms do not go away.

When using topical vaginal medicines or hemorrhoid treatments containing benzocaine:

  • Talk to a healthcare professional before using a vaginal medicine containing benzocaine on a child under the age of two.
  • Talk to a healthcare professional before using a hemorrhoid treatment containing benzocaine to treat a child under the age of 12.

When using topical pain relievers containing benzocaine:

  • Talk to a healthcare professional before using a topical pain reliever containing benzocaine on a child under the age of two.

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