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High-Strength Lidocaine Skin Creams Can Cause Seizures, Heart Trouble, FDA Warns

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on March 29, 2024.

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 29, 2024 -- Some pain-relieving skin products contain potentially harmful doses of the numbing agent lidocaine and should be avoided, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

These creams, gels, sprays and soaps are marketed for topical use to relieve the pain of cosmetic procedures like microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, tattooing and piercing, the FDA said.

The agency has issued warning lettings to six companies that are marketing products containing concentrations of lidocaine heavy enough to harm people, particularly after cosmetic procedures that could cause the cream to be absorbed more readily through the skin.

Products containing lidocaine over 4% can contribute to health problems like an irregular heartbeat, seizures and breathing difficulties, the FDA explained. They also can interact with other medications or supplements a person is taking.

“These products pose unacceptable risks to consumers and should not be on the market,” Jill Furman, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release. “We are committed to using all available tools to stop the sale of these illegal high-risk products.”

The companies and products covered by the warning letters include:

The FDA is particularly concerned if these products are applied over large areas of skin for prolonged periods of time, especially if the skin is irritated or broken.

Consumers also should not wrap skin treated with any over-the-counter pain relief products with plastic wrap or other dressings, which can increase the risk of side effects, the FDA said.


  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, March 26, 2024

Disclaimer: Statistical data in medical articles provide general trends and do not pertain to individuals. Individual factors can vary greatly. Always seek personalized medical advice for individual healthcare decisions.

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