Topical Anesthesia

Topical Anesthesia

Definition

Topical anesthesia is a method of pain control. The numbing medication is placed directly on the surface to be treated. Topical numbing medication comes in many forms, including sprays, gels, gargles, and lozenges.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

Topical pain medications are used for a wide range of procedures. They can be used to numb the front of the eye, the inside of the nose, the throat, the skin, the ear, the anus, or the male or female genital area.

How is the procedure performed?

The type of topical anesthesia applied varies, depending on the area of the body. Eye drops can be used to numb the front of the eye. Jellies are commonly used before endoscopy, a procedure in which a thin telescope is placed inside the body. This telescope allows a healthcare professional to see the inside of the nose, throat, lungs, stomach, bladder, or other areas. Jelly can be applied or even put on the telescope so that areas are numbed during the procedure.
Sprays and creams are commonly used on the skin. Sprays or lozenges may be used for the throat and mouth. After the area is numb from the medication, the procedure can begin. Procedures range from a routine eye exam to putting sutures in a cut.
Topical anesthesia is most useful for minor procedures, where pain control is essentially the only objective and the person does not object to being awake and remembering the operation. Sedatives may still be given if needed, The numbing effect of the topical agent usually wears off within an hour.

Sources

Regional Anesthesia, 1985, Adrian et al.

The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 1995, Goodman et al.

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