Topical anesthetics are used to reduce the sensation of pain in the area to which they are applied. They are categorized into various forms like creams, ointments, sprays, gels and solutions. Topical anesthetics used on the areas like skin, inside the mouth or throat, in the nose, or in the eyes.

They are also used to relieve pain caused by minor burns, vaccination, minor cuts or before dressing changes when wounds are fresh.

Topical anestheticsdull the pain receptors underneath the skin so that they can’t send pain signals to the brain. They are widely used in minimizing pain and discomfort occurring in tattooing, piercing, and surgical incisions.

Here we have explained the main numbing agents that are used in these topical anesthetics.


Lidocaine is one of the key numbing agents widely used in the topical creams, gels and injection shots. Lidocaine was discovered in 1946, though it was made available for the sale in 1948. W.H.O has approved Lidocaine as an essential medicine. It is easily available as OTC product at affordable prices. Lidocaine is the most effective numbing agent and can keep the skin numb for more than one hour.

Many numbing creams contain 5% lidocaine to deliver a long lasting numbing effect for tattooing, piercing, lasers and minor incisions. Being a water soluble agent, it is easily absorbed by the skin.


Like lidocaine, Benzocaine is the widely used local anesthetic to reduce pain and discomfort caused by skin irritations, burning sensations, piercing and penetrations. However, it is less efficient than lidocaine due to its slow absorption rate. It is somewhat less water soluble. Its numbing effect is mild and has relatively less duration lidocaine. Benzocaine may not be used for intricate and long processes. However, it can be used for post-surgical pain relief.


Tetracaine is a local anesthetic that blocks the nerve signals in your body. It is used to numb different parts of the body before the process.


This local anesthetic is used for an epidural or spinal block and dental procedures. It is similar to lidocaine in terms of anesthetic structure, having a relatively onset and moderate duration of action. For an epidural or spinal block, Mepivacaine shot is injected into an area of your lower back near the spine. The injection is given by a medical professional in a hospital. In case of dental procedure, Mepivacaine is injected into the gum area inside the mouth at dental clinic. It is also available as topical ointment.

So, these are some of the numbing agents that are used to reduce pain and discomfort in various processes and dermal procedures. They are also available as a single product. Many topical anesthetic manufacturers use the combination of these numbing agents into their products.

Always follow the guidelines given on the pack. Don’t use any of these anesthetics if you are allergic to one or more anesthetic products.