Pre-tattoo or piercing 'numbing' creams can be dangerous


The FDAs ready to help with adverse reactions

If you recently got a tattoo, a piercing, a laser treatment, or are thinking about getting one, you might want to consider one of a large yellow “Danger” sign.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers that the numbing creams you see online for those procedures often have too much  lidocaine, which might make your skin crawl in a whole different way.

The agency’s concern about lidocaine is that the cream’s concentrations are higher than what is permitted for over-the-counter, topical pain relief products. 

“When these products that contain high concentrations of lidocaine intended to be used before or during certain cosmetic procedures are applied in ways that could lead to increased absorption of the drug product through the skin, it may lead to serious injury such as irregular heartbeat, seizures and breathing difficulties," the agency said. "These products may also interact with medications or dietary supplements a consumer is taking."

The FDA isn’t playing around with this situation, either. In letters to six different companies -- such as this one to the manufacturer of NumbSkin -- the agency told these manufacturers that these products are in violation of federal law.

How to stay comfortably numb

The agency says that anyone who needs a “numbing product” would be wise to:

  • Check the label: Never use anything over-the-counter with more than 4% lidocaine.

  • Less is more: Don't slather it on huge areas of your skin, especially if your skin's already irritated.

  • No plastic wrap: Don't cover the area with plastic wrap or anything that traps the cream.

And if you have any bad side effects from these creams, be sure to tell the FDA ASAP through its MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program so the agency can take action to protect the public from any unsafe products.

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