Anesthesiology/Benzocaine worry


QUESTION: Hi I was wondering if benzocaine topical can cause permanent numbness or damage any nerves  I used a spray about a month ago and the area still feels like is has a loss of sensation I'm worried its permanent I really appreciate any advice you can give

ANSWER: Hi James,
Thanks for the question.  I'll do my best to address your concern.

Traditionally, benzocaine topical has a duration of up to a couple of hours.  If there was anything injected into the area after the benzocaine topical was placed, there is a chance that some nerve injury could have occurred, whether it be from direct nerve injury, from needle, or from compression on a nerve due to a volume of whatever might have been injected into the tissues/muscles, etc.
And after doing some additional research on the matter, I could find no information matching your description of what is going on, re: prolonged numbness after topical benzocaine application.

I hope this helps.  Please feel to contact me with any further questions should you have any.

Thanks again.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi thank you for your answer basically I used a topical spray that contained 7.5% benzocaine I applied 5 sprays as it stated to apply no more than 8 but I'm still feeling as if there is loss of sensation in the area. Nothing was injected into the area. So I'm wondering if the spray itself could do any damage?

Hi James,
I cannot support, nor find any data, to support saying yes to your most recent question.  If there continues to be a concern, you might want to seek advise from your family practice physician, and/or a neurologist for a broader/more exact cause.  Hope this helps, and good luck with everything!


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Dino Kattato MSNA CRNA


Former ICU/ER RN with several years of experience. I can answer questions relating to the CRNA education process, professional issues involved, as well as questions about adult and pediatric clinical anesthesia.


Level I regional Trauma center dealing with simple to complex patient populations of all ages. Experience with general anesthesia, spinal and epidural anesthesia, and total IV anesthesia for all surgical specialties including neuro, ortho, general surgery, vascular, electrophysiology, and VIR, with the exception of cardiac anesthesia. Ambulatory surgery center dealing mostly with ENT, plastics, and eyes (70%:30% peds:adults).


AANA Journal February 2010 Feb;78(1):24-7.


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