Topical anesthetics or numbing creams are one of the best solutions to help you ease out the pain of minor dermal procedures, such as electrolysis. People who have low pain threshold may rely on these numbing creams for pain relief before getting a tattoo, laser hair removal, waxing or any other medical procedure.

But what active ingredients are present in these topical anesthetics that provide such soothing and numbing effect?

All these creams contain the following main numbing agents that don’t let you feel pain.


  1. Lidocaine/ prilocaine


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Lidocaine/prilocaine is a eutectic mixture of equal quantities of lidocaine and prilocaine. The 5-percent emulsion preparation contains 2.5-percent each of lidocaine/prilocaine. This medicine contains a mixture of two topical local anesthetics that deadens the nerve endings in the skin. It is marketed by APP Pharmaceuticals under the trade name EMLA (Eutectic Mixture of Local Anesthetics). This cream is used to cause numbness or loss of pain before certain medical procedures. It is often used to prevent pain caused by an injection, the drawing of blood from a vein, tattooing, waxing, laser hair removal or minor surgeries. The duration of effective skin anesthesia will be at least one hour after removal of the occlusive dressing. Dr. Numb cream contains lidocaine and prilocaine for numbing effect on the skin.

  1. Benzocaine

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Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that’s used as a topical pain reliever in most numbing creams found in the market. Pain occurs when the nerve endings are stimulated, sodium enters the neuron, causing depolarization of the nerve and initiation of an action potential. The action potential is propagated down the nerve toward the central nervous system, which makes you feel pain. Tridocaine gel contains benzocaine as main ingredient.

  1. Bupivacaine

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Bupivacaine is an anesthetic or numbing medicine, which blocks the nerve impulses that send pain signals to your brain. It is used as a local anesthetic that’s given as an epidural injection into the spinal column to produce numbness during labor, surgery, or certain medical procedures. This medication can cause numbness over a large portion of your body. Take care to avoid injury before the feeling has returned completely.

  1. Tetracaine

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Tetracaine is a local anesthetic (numbing medicine). It works by blocking nerve signals in your body. Tetracaine topical anesthetic is used to numb different parts of the body before a medical test or procedure. It is recommended to use this topical anesthetic in small amounts. If applied in large quantities, over large skin areas, or if you apply heat, bandages or plastic wrap to the treated skin, your body may absorb more of this medicine. It should not be applied without the advice of a medical doctor, especially during a cosmetic procedure like laser hair removal. Triocaine cream contains tetracaine as one of the main numbing agent.

  1. Pramocaine 

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Pramocaine is a topical anesthetic discovered at Abbott Laboratories in 1953[1] and used as an antipruritic. It decreases the permeability of neuronal membranes to sodium ions for blocking both initiation and conduction of nerve impulses. Topical anesthetics containing pramocaine are used to relieve pain and itching caused by conditions such as sunburn or other minor burns, insect bites or stings, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and minor cuts and scratches. Anugesic HC cream contains pramocaine as one of the ingredients to cause numbing on the skin.

These were some of the active numbing agents that are used to numb the skin before medical procedures. Although, most anesthetics are available over-the-counter, it’s recommended that you consult a medical specialist before buying or using any numbing cream.