Emla  contains two active ingredients: lidocaine and prilocaine. Lidocaine and prilocaine are local anesthetics, meaning they work to numb the skin or mucous membranes in the area where the cream is applied. This topical anesthetic cream is widely used for various medical procedures, vaccinations, and minor surgeries.

Emla works by blocking nerve signals in the applied area. When the cream is spread over the skin or mucous membranes, lidocaine and prilocaine penetrate the outer layers and reach the nerve endings. These active ingredients interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain, effectively numbing the area and reducing discomfort during medical procedures.

Emla is beneficial for different groups of people, including:

  1. Children: Emla is commonly used to numb the skin before administering vaccinations or drawing blood, making the experience less traumatic for children.
  2. Adults: Whether it’s getting a small surgical procedure, a tattoo, or undergoing laser hair removal, Emla can provide relief from pain and discomfort.
  3. Elderly: Older individuals often have sensitive skin, and Emla can help ease pain during certain medical procedures or treatments.
  4. Patients with Needle Phobia: Many people experience anxiety or fear around needles. Emla can be a valuable tool to reduce anxiety and pain during injections or blood tests.
  5. Patients with Chronic Conditions: Individuals undergoing regular medical procedures or treatments can use Emla to manage pain more effectively.
  6. Dermatological Procedures: Emla is used before dermatological procedures such as skin biopsies to minimize pain and discomfort.
  7. Minor Surgeries: Some minor surgeries can be performed with the use of Emla to reduce the need for general anesthesia.

Emla Patches vs. Emla Cream

Emla patches are a topical anesthetic application that delivers controlled doses of lidocaine and prilocaine through the skin. These patches are designed to adhere firmly to the skin’s surface, ensuring a steady release of the active ingredients. They are commonly used for medical procedures, such as needle insertions, vaccinations, and minor surgeries.

Emla Cream, like Emla Patches, contains a combination of lidocaine and prilocaine. However, instead of patches, it is available in cream form. Emla Cream works similarly to the patches by numbing the skin’s surface and is also commonly used for various medical procedures.

Both Emla Patches and Emla Cream are effective in numbing the skin and reducing pain during medical procedures. However, the effectiveness may vary depending on the area of application and individual factors. Some users may find one form more effective than the other due to differences in skin absorption rates.

Application and Absorption

Emla patches utilize a transdermal delivery system to facilitate the absorption of the active ingredients into the skin. The patch allows for a controlled release of lidocaine and prilocaine over an extended period, ensuring a longer-lasting numbing effect.

The absorption of Emla patches follows a similar pathway to Emla cream. The active ingredients diffuse through the skin’s layers, reaching the nerve endings and inhibiting pain signals. As with Emla cream, factors such as skin thickness and the presence of skin barriers can influence the absorption rate of Emla patches.

Emla cream is designed to penetrate the skin to reach the nerve endings and block pain signals. The cream’s active ingredients, lidocaine, and prilocaine, are lipophilic, which means they dissolve in fats and oils. This lipophilic nature allows them to cross the skin’s barrier and enter the underlying tissues, where they exert their numbing effect.

The absorption of Emla cream is influenced by several factors, including the thickness of the skin, the presence of any skin barriers (such as calluses or scars), and the duration of application. Generally, areas with thinner skin, like the face, tend to absorb the cream more rapidly compared to thicker skin areas, such as the soles of the feet.

Pros and Cons of Emla Patches

Advantages of Emla Patches

  1. Ease of Application: Emla patches are easy to use, as they come with adhesive backing that sticks to the skin. This makes them ideal for self-application without assistance.
  2. Uniform Dosage: Emla patches deliver a consistent dosage of the anesthetic, ensuring a predictable and reliable numbing effect.
  3. Extended Numbing: These patches are designed to provide prolonged numbing, making them suitable for longer procedures.
  4. Minimal Mess: Unlike creams, Emla patches do not leave a greasy residue on the skin, reducing the need for cleanup after use.
  5. Waterproof Options: Some Emla patches are waterproof, allowing patients to proceed with water-related procedures without compromising the anesthetic effect.

Disadvantages of Emla Patches

  1. Patch Discomfort: Some individuals may find wearing patches uncomfortable, especially if they have sensitive skin or allergies to adhesives.
  2. Limited Flexibility: Certain body parts may not be suitable for patch application due to their shape or difficulty in adherence.
  3. Application Time: Emla patches usually require a longer application time to achieve maximum effectiveness, which might not be suitable for urgent procedures.
  4. Cost: In comparison to Emla cream, patches can be more expensive, especially when multiple patches are required for larger treatment areas.
  5. Allergic Reactions: As with any topical product, there is a risk of allergic reactions, although they are relatively rare.

Pros and Cons of Emla Cream

Advantages of Emla Cream

  1. Versatility: Emla cream can be applied to various body parts, regardless of shape, allowing for a broader range of applications.
  2. Faster Onset: Emla cream typically takes effect quicker than patches, making it more suitable for urgent procedures.
  3. Customizable Dosage: Users can control the amount of cream applied, offering flexibility in adjusting the anesthetic effect.
  4. Affordability: Emla cream is often more cost-effective, especially for smaller treatment areas.
  5. Less Skin Irritation: Some individuals may experience less skin irritation with the cream compared to adhesive patches.

Disadvantages of Emla Cream

  1. Messy Application: Emla cream can leave a greasy residue on the skin, which may require cleaning after use.
  2. Inconsistent Dosage: If not applied evenly, the numbing effect may be uneven, leading to potential discomfort during the procedure.
  3. Shorter Duration: The numbing effect of Emla cream may not last as long as patches, requiring reapplication for lengthier procedures.
  4. Risk of Overdose: Incorrect dosage or excessive application of Emla cream can lead to an overdose, causing potential side effects.
  5. Limited Waterproof Options: Unlike some Emla patches, the cream may not be suitable for water-related procedures.

Best Use Cases for Emla Patches

  • Dermal Procedures: Emla patches are well-suited for minor dermal procedures, such as vaccinations, blood sampling, or skin biopsies.
  • Needle Phobia: For individuals with needle phobia, Emla patches offer a less intimidating alternative, especially for smaller procedures.
  • Pediatric Use: Emla patches can be a preferred choice for children, as the patch application process can be less distressing than injections.
  • Local Skin Infections: When the area of treatment has an infection or open wound, Emla patches are advantageous as they do not require direct contact with the affected skin.

Best Use Cases for Emla Cream

  • Larger Medical Procedures: Emla cream is ideal for more extensive procedures, such as laser treatments, where a broader surface needs to be numbed.
  • Dermal Insertions: When a dermal insertion is required, Emla cream can provide effective anesthesia.
  • Tattooing and Piercings: Emla cream can be beneficial for minimizing discomfort during tattooing or piercing sessions.
  • Suture Removal: For patients undergoing suture removal, Emla cream can alleviate the associated pain and discomfort.

Warnings and Precautions

  1. Allergic Reactions: Before using Emla, check for any allergies to lidocaine, prilocaine, or other local anesthetics. If you experience itching, rash, or swelling after applying the cream, discontinue its use immediately and seek medical attention.
  2. Children and Infants: Emla should be used with caution in children and infants, especially those under the age of three months. Consult a healthcare professional before applying the cream to young children.
  3. Open Wounds or Broken Skin: Do not apply Emla to open wounds, broken skin, or mucous membranes. The cream should only be used on intact skin surfaces.
  4. Acute Porphyria: Individuals with a history of acute porphyria should avoid using Emla, as it may trigger an episode of this rare genetic disorder.
  5. Methemoglobinemia Risk: Emla can increase the risk of methemoglobinemia, a condition where the blood cannot carry oxygen effectively. This risk is higher in infants under the age of twelve months and individuals with certain genetic variations. If your skin turns bluish or grayish, stop using Emla and seek medical attention immediately.
  6. Application to Large Areas: Avoid applying Emla to large areas of the body or using excessive quantities. Overuse may lead to systemic absorption and potential side effects.
  7. Application to Sensitive Areas: Use caution when applying Emla to sensitive areas, such as the genital region or near the eyes. Accidental contact with these areas can cause irritation or adverse effects.
  8. Drug Interactions: Inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking before using Emla to avoid potential drug interactions.
  9. Liver or Kidney Impairment: Individuals with liver or kidney impairment should consult a healthcare professional before using Emla, as it may require dosage adjustments.
  10. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: While Emla is generally considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before use.
  11. Emla and Vaccinations: Do not apply Emla to the vaccination site before getting immunized, as it may interfere with the effectiveness of the vaccine.
  12. Application Duration: Follow the recommended application duration provided by your healthcare professional. Prolonged use may lead to adverse effects.
  13. Storage and Disposal: Store Emla cream in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat. Keep it out of reach of children and pets. Dispose of the unused or expired product properly according to local guidelines.
  14. Emla and Eye Procedures: Take extra care when using Emla around the eyes for certain eye procedures. Follow your eye care professional’s guidance to prevent eye irritation.
  15. Avoid Ingestion: Emla is for external use only. Do not swallow or ingest the cream, as it may lead to systemic toxicity.
  16. Emla and Tattoo Removal: If you are undergoing tattoo removal procedures using lasers, inform your healthcare professional if you have applied Emla before the session.
  17. Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes should monitor their blood glucose levels closely while using Emla, as the cream may interfere with some glucose meters.
  18. Safety for Elderly Patients: Elderly patients should use Emla with caution, as they may be more susceptible to certain side effects.
  19. Contraindication for Methemoglobin Reductase Deficiency: Emla is contraindicated in individuals with methemoglobin reductase deficiency.
  20. Sunscreen Compatibility: Avoid applying sunscreen on the area where you have used Emla, as the cream may reduce the effectiveness of the sunscreen.
  21. Effectiveness on Different Skin Types: Emla may have varying effectiveness on different skin types. Monitor the cream’s action closely and consult a healthcare professional if necessary.
  22. Emla and Peripheral Nerve Blocks: Emla should not be used for peripheral nerve blocks due to the risk of methemoglobinemia.
  23. Potential Eye Irritation: Be cautious to avoid contact with the eyes when applying Emla. In case of accidental contact, rinse thoroughly with water and seek medical advice.
  24. Ingestion by Children: Keep Emla out of the reach of children, as ingestion may lead to serious health issues.
  25. Emla and Blood Pressure: Monitor blood pressure levels after applying Emla, especially in patients with cardiovascular issues.

Side Effects

Common Side Effects

  1. Skin Redness and Swelling: It is common for patients to experience mild redness and swelling at the application site. This reaction is generally harmless and resolves on its own within a few hours.
  2. Itching or Burning Sensation: Some individuals may experience itching or a mild burning sensation at the site of application. This usually subsides quickly and should not be a cause for concern.
  3. Numbness: Since Emla is an anesthetic, numbness is an expected side effect. The treated area may feel numb for a short period, which is entirely normal.
  4. Headache: In some cases, individuals might experience mild headaches after Emla application. Staying hydrated and taking a short rest can help alleviate this symptom.
  5. Nausea: A small percentage of patients may experience mild nausea after using Emla. If this occurs, it is advisable to lie down until the sensation passes.

Rare Side Effects

  1. Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may be allergic to the components of Emla. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. Seek immediate medical attention if an allergic reaction occurs.
  2. Blistering or Severe Skin Irritation: In very rare cases, Emla can cause severe skin irritation, leading to blisters or sores at the application site. If this happens, discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.
  3. Changes in Skin Color: Some patients may notice temporary changes in skin color at the site of application. These changes typically resolve without intervention.
  4. Dizziness or Fainting: In extremely rare instances, Emla can lead to dizziness or fainting. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.
  5. Methemoglobinemia: This is an extremely rare condition in which the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity is reduced. If you notice symptoms like blue or gray-colored skin, shortness of breath, confusion, or an elevated heart rate after using Emla, seek immediate medical help.

Severe Side Effects

  1. Seizures: Although very uncommon, Emla may trigger seizures in sensitive individuals. If you or someone around you experiences a seizure after Emla application, call emergency services immediately.
  2. Irregular Heartbeat: Emla may, in rare cases, cause changes in heart rhythm. If you feel your heart racing or experience palpitations, consult a healthcare professional promptly.
  3. Breathing Difficulties: While exceptionally rare, Emla can lead to breathing difficulties. If you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.
  4. Extreme Fatigue or Weakness: Prolonged fatigue or weakness after Emla application requires medical evaluation, as it could indicate an adverse reaction.


Like any other medication, they can interact with other drugs, herbs, and foods, potentially leading to adverse effects or reduced efficacy. Understanding these interactions is crucial to ensuring the safe and effective use of Emla cream and patches. Below we break down the drug, herbal and food interactions that Emla may have.

Drug Interactions

When using Emla cream or patches, it is essential to be aware of potential drug interactions. Certain medications can interfere with the effectiveness of Emla or cause unexpected side effects. Some common drugs that may interact with Emla products include:

  • Blood Thinners: Drugs like Warfarin and Aspirin may increase the risk of bleeding when used with Emla cream or patches.
  • Antidepressants: Certain antidepressants can lead to interactions that affect the nervous system, causing drowsiness or dizziness.
  • Anti-seizure Medications: Using Emla with certain anti-seizure drugs may alter their effectiveness.

How Drug Interactions Occur

Drug interactions can occur due to various reasons. In some cases, multiple drugs may have similar effects, leading to an overdose of a particular component. Alternatively, drugs may interact by affecting each other’s absorption, distribution, metabolism, or excretion from the body.

Minimizing Risks of Drug Interactions

To minimize the risk of drug interactions with Emla cream and patches:

  • Inform Your Healthcare Provider: Share a complete list of all medications you are taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements.
  • Follow Recommended Dosages: Stick to the prescribed dosage and application instructions provided by your healthcare professional.
  • Monitor for Side Effects: Pay attention to any unusual reactions and report them to your doctor promptly.

Herbal Interactions

Certain herbs may interact with Emla cream and patches, potentially affecting their efficacy or safety. Some common herbs to be cautious about when using Emla products include:

  • St. John’s Wort: This herbal supplement is known to interact with various medications, including Emla, reducing its effectiveness.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: When used with Emla cream or patches, Ginkgo Biloba may increase the risk of bleeding.

The Impact of Herbal Interactions on Emla Cream and Patches

Herbal interactions can alter the way Emla is processed in the body, leading to unintended consequences. Some herbs may enhance the effects of Elma, while others might counteract its benefits.

Food Interactions

Certain foods can interact with Emla cream and patches, potentially influencing the absorption and effectiveness of the medication. For example:

  • Grapefruit: Consuming grapefruit or its juice can affect the metabolism of certain medications, possibly impacting Emla’s efficacy.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption may increase the risk of side effects when used with Emla products.

Best Practices for Managing Food Interactions

To manage food interactions with Emla cream and patches:

  • Read Labels and Warnings: Pay attention to any food-related warnings provided with the medication.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Grapefruit: Limit or avoid the consumption of alcohol and grapefruit while using Emla.

How to Apply Emla Patches

Before applying the Emla Patch, ensure that the affected area is clean and dry. Avoid using any lotions or creams as they may interfere with the patch’s adhesion. It’s essential to read the product instructions carefully before usage.

Follow these simple steps to apply Emla Patches effectively:

  1. Peel the Patch: Carefully remove the protective backing of the patch, taking care not to touch the adhesive.
  2. Apply to Affected Area: Place the patch directly over the area experiencing pain. Gently press it down to ensure good adhesion.
  3. Keep it in Place: Emla Patches are designed to stay in place for an extended period. However, if the patch starts to peel off, you can use medical tape to secure it.
  4. Remove After Use: After the recommended wear time (usually 8-12 hours), peel off the patch gently.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do: Use Emla Patches as directed and follow the recommended wear time.
  • Do: Store the patches in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Don’t: Apply the patch to broken or irritated skin.
  • Don’t: Use the patch on areas with rashes or allergies.

How to Apply Emla Cream

Before applying Emla cream, it is essential to start with a clean canvas. Use a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and makeup from your face. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel, leaving it slightly damp for better absorption of the cream.

  1. Take a Pea-Sized Amount: Scoop a small amount of Emla cream onto your fingertips. A pea-sized amount is generally sufficient for the entire face. If you wish to apply it to specific areas, adjust the quantity accordingly.
  2. Dot the Cream: Gently dot the cream onto different parts of your face, such as cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin. This ensures an even distribution of the product.
  3. Massage Inward: Using gentle circular motions, massage the cream into your skin. The massaging action not only promotes better absorption but also improves blood circulation, contributing to healthier skin.
  4. Focus on Problem Areas: If you have specific problem areas like dry patches or blemishes, spend a little extra time massaging the cream into those areas for targeted treatment.

Frequency of Application

The frequency of using Emla cream depends on your skin’s needs and the climate. For those with dry skin, applying it twice daily, in the morning and before bedtime, is ideal. If you have oily or combination skin, using it once a day or every other day may be sufficient.


The first step in storing Emla Cream and Emla Patches is to find a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Heat and humidity can alter the composition of the products and reduce their effectiveness. Consider storing them in a medicine cabinet or a drawer to protect them from temperature fluctuations.

Both Emla Cream and Emla Patches come in containers that need to be sealed tightly after each use. Ensuring proper closure prevents air from entering and maintains the integrity of the product. Airtight containers also reduce the risk of contamination, which can affect the quality of the cream or patches.

Emla Cream and Emla Patches contain active ingredients that can be harmful if ingested or misused. Always keep these products out of the reach of children and pets. Store them in a secure location, such as a high shelf or a locked cabinet.

Before purchasing or using Emla Cream and Emla Patches, check the expiration date on the packaging. Expired products may lose their potency and effectiveness, and they should be discarded safely. Using expired products can lead to undesirable outcomes and may not provide the intended relief.

Extreme temperatures can damage the consistency and efficacy of Emla Cream and Emla Patches. Never expose these products to freezing temperatures, as this can lead to the separation of ingredients and render them ineffective. If you live in a cold climate, ensure you store them indoors at room temperature.

It is essential to store Emla Cream and Emla Patches in their original containers. Transferring them to unlabeled containers can lead to confusion, and you may forget the contents or expiration date. Always keep the original packaging intact to maintain clarity.

Both Emla Cream and Emla Patches can absorb strong odors from the environment, affecting their smell and possibly their effectiveness. Keep them away from items with pungent smells, such as perfumes, cleaning agents, or chemical products.

If you have both Emla Cream and Emla Patches, avoid mixing them in the same container. They are different products with distinct formulations and applications. Storing them separately prevents cross-contamination and maintains their individual effectiveness.

Water can compromise the integrity of Emla Cream and Emla Patches. Ensure they are stored away from sinks, bathtubs, and other water sources to prevent accidental exposure.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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