Picture this. One moment, you’re excited because you’re finally getting the long-awaited tattoo or the vaccine and the next, your eyes are widening with fear as you find the doctor or tattoo artist holding a needle in their hand. Your anxiety level goes up and the anticipation of pain hurts more than the actual pain.
Relatable? Well, I’m stoked to tell you that you won’t ever be going through something like that again. And no, I don’t mean needle-free vaccines or blood tests (do they even exist?). What I’m talking about is numbing cream, one of the most brilliant inventions in medical science that allows you to get tattoos or injections without feeling a thing!
Today, I’m going to be walking you through the ins and outs of numbing cream and all the intricacies involved with using it for receiving tattoos or laser removal. Along with that, I’ll also be answering some commonly asked questions in the FAQ section.
Without any further ado, let’s get right down to it!
What is Numbing Cream And Why Do You Need It?
Credit: Instagram @ lidooxin_
As the name suggests, numbing cream basically numbs the pain commonly felt during cosmetic appointments like receiving a tattoo. Or removing one, for that matter.
While that’s one of the most popular uses of numbing cream, other applications include preparing for minor surgical procedures, relieving severe itching caused by irritants like poison ivy, minimizing pain during hair removal procedures, etc.
You get the point. If your skin is anyhow exposed to pain, numbing cream will help you out as long as there are no superficial wounds present in the area. Now that we know what numbing cream is, let’s get to why it’s needed.
A lot of people are afraid of the pain of needle procedures. Sadly, the fear of needles can and will make your life hard at times, as you simply can’t avoid it. That’s where numbing cream comes in, they take the pain out of the equation and make the procedure a total breeze!
It can be such a lifesaver for anyone with needle fears. They’re incredibly useful for medical procedures that involve painful injections and are great pain relievers.
Are topical anesthetic and numbing cream the same?
Yes, they are.
A topical anesthetic is a special kind of local anesthetic that numbs only the surface of a body part. They come in different forms like lotion, jelly, spray, and cream. Topical anesthetic cream is popularly known as a numbing cream.
The terms can be used interchangeably, but if your doctor suggests you use a topical anesthetic, do ask if (s)he means the cream or any other type.
How Does Topical Anesthetic Cream Numb the Needle Pain?
Topical anesthetic cream – which is generally based on a local anesthetic called Lidocaine – numbs the area where it’s been applied. It numbs the pain in a rather simple manner, by stopping nerves from sending pain signals to your brain.
If you’re interested in a more scientific explanation, read below.
What Lidocaine does is, blocks sodium channels and hence decreases the rate of contractions of the heart. As long as Lidocaine is active, the nerves in that particular area won’t be able to conduct signals to or from the brain. Even if your nerves want to tell your brain that it’s hurting, they won’t be able to.
So, you don’t feel a thing. That’s pretty much how numbing creams work.
Does numbing cream work for tattoo needles?
Yes, topical anesthetics work fine for tattoo needles as well. Apply some numbing cream on the place where you would be receiving the tattoo an hour before the tattoo appointment, and the rest of your tattoo session will be absolutely painless.
If you’re looking for the best numbing cream for tattoos, I would recommend Uber Numb Numbing Cream.
Using Numbing Cream Before Receiving or Removing a Tattoo: The Supreme Checklist
Getting the first tattoo can be a scary idea for some. And that’s totally okay, tattoos are known to hurt – making the fear legitimate.
While pain indeed is a part of the game here, you can always turn the tables drastically by using numbing cream. It’s a terrific way to make your pain levels so much more manageable, making the overall experience smooth and fun for both you and your tattoo artist.
If you’re going to be using numbing cream before getting or removing a tattoo, use the checklist below to make sure you’re doing everything as needed:
- Inform the tattoo artist beforehand. As numbing cream tends to make the skin a bit on the slippery/rubbery side, the artist needs to be prepared for it.
- Wherever in your body you’re going to be lasered or tattooed, clean the area thoroughly before applying the cream.
- Remove the dressing right before the session starts.
- If the tattoo session is supposed to be long, apply the numbing cream while waiting at the place instead of at home.
- After the tattoo has been applied/removed, wash the numbing cream off your skin. Do wash your hand well with soap and water afterwards.
Applying Numbing Cream On Your Skin Before Getting an Injection/Tattoo
Using numbing cream on your skin may seem like a tricky process at first. But believe me, it’s really simple and straightforward. All you have to do is to follow the guidelines I’ve provided below and you’re good to go.
How to apply it on the skin
- Hold the opening of the tube of cream above the area to be applied.
- Squeeze the tube gently and apply a thick blob of cream straight onto the skin. No need to rub it in.
- The cream should come with waterproof dressing. Place that over the cream so it stays in place.
- Note down the time, the cream would start taking effects in 30-60 minutes.
- Wash your hands well.
- When it’s time for the procedure, take the dressing off. If you see any excess cream that hasn’t been soaked into your skin, wipe that off carefully with a tissue paper.
Where to not use (unless your doctor tells you to)
I can’t stress this enough, don’t use numbing cream on your ears, nose, eyes, the inside of your mouth, or your genitals/anus without consulting with your physician first. These areas are extremely sensitive.
If, and only if, your doctor tells you it’s okay too, you may proceed.
Along with that, numbing cream should never be applied on swollen skin or deep puncture wounds. If you have a severe burn or abrasion, I would strongly discourage you to avoid using numbing cream on such skin areas.
How much is enough?
It depends on the kind of Lidocaine cream you’re using and of course, what type of procedure it is. It’s best to consult with your doctor or a nurse so you don’t end up overdosing, which may have very serious consequences.
A minor procedure can require you to only use part of a tube, whereas major cosmetic procedures may need you to apply more than one tube. Read the instructions that came with the numbing cream to get an idea.
Do not apply more cream to get faster results – it doesn’t work that way.
Oops, did you apply a bit too much?
Having more than the recommended amount of Lidocaine in your system can cause fatal side effects. Fortunately, it’s unlikely for Lidocaine-based anesthetic cream applied to the skin to cause an overdose. Unless you’re deliberately applying way too much. And if you were prescribed Lidocaine, the doctor/nurse has probably given you only the amount for a one-off procedure anyway.
But if you feel sick right after applying the cream, do not hesitate to let the doctor know.
Seek emergency medical attention immediately if you have any of the following overdose symptoms:
- Seizure (convulsions)
- Irregular heartbeats
- Slowed breathing
- Respiratory failure (unable to breathe)
Forgot to put it on? Here’s what to do
If you forget to apply the numbing cream or do it less than an hour prior to the procedure, let the person (doctor or tattoo artist) know that they need to delay it.
Again, there’s no use applying extra numbing cream as Lidocaine will not be working any faster.
Skin Reactions: Can Numbing Cream Cause an Allergic Reaction?
Honestly speaking, chances are very low you’d be getting an allergic reaction by using Lidocaine-based numbing cream. But if you face any of the symptoms mentioned below, seek medical attention immediately.
- Any sort of skin rash including but not limited to blistered, swollen, red, itchy or peeling skin.
- Feeling tightness in the throat or chest.
- Having trouble talking or breathing.
- Swelling mouth, face, tongue, throat or lips.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does numbing cream have any side effects?
It depends on which cream you’re using. Checking the labeling for side effects is always a good idea.
But generally speaking, expect to feel an itching or tingling sensation where you applied the cream. The skin at that place may turn pale with red spots or mild swelling may occur too. These are some common side effects you don’t need to worry about.
That being said, if you do have excessing swelling, redness, or severe burning at the place, make sure to get in touch with your doctor immediately.
Can you put on numbing cream before getting a tattoo?
Yes, you certainly can. Any over-the-counter numbing cream may be applied to the skin before the tattoo session, so you can enjoy the outcome without going through the pain.
It would be a very good idea to get one especially if you’re getting the tattoo somewhere sensitive like a rib or elbow. Having a good pain tolerance is wonderful, but why bother when you can just use some good old numbing cream?
Can Emla cream be used for tattoos?
Yes, definitely. Whether you’re getting a new tattoo or removing an old one with a laser – Emla numbing cream will numb your skin effectively. Make sure to give the tattoo artist a heads-up beforehand and apply the cream an hour prior to the procedure.
How long does numbing cream last?
Generic Lidocaine-based numbing creams like Emla take about 30-60 minutes to take effect and last up to two hours. So if you have a longer tattoo appointment in mind, make sure to invest in a stronger cream. Read the instructions that come with the cream to know about the exact activation time.
The cream can be left on the skin for up to five hours.
Does numbing cream affect tattoos?
Not really. A decent numbing cream would never mess with your tattoo or fade it. All you have to do is to stay away from the low-quality products and you’ll be fine.
Having said that, water-based numbing creams may make your skin slippery so it would make the process a tad bit harder for the tattoo artist. Make sure to let him know first which cream you would be using.
Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind is, it may take more time for the tattoo to heal if you were using numbing cream during the procedure.
Whew, that was quite a ride, wasn’t it? Let me quickly recap what we’ve learned so far.
We’ve known about what numbing cream is, how it works and what things you need to keep in mind for using numbing cream before getting or removing a tattoo. I’ve also recommended my favorite numbing cream for a tattoo there, which is Uber Numb Numbing Cream (paid link).
After that, we’ve learned how to apply it on the skin along with some tips and if you could get an allergic reaction from numbing cream. Lastly, I’ve answered some commonly asked questions in the FAQ section, which should clear up any confusion you may have had.
I will be more than happy if you find this comprehensive article on numbing cream to be of help. No matter where and how you’re going to be using it, always make sure to talk to your doctor first so you don’t end up doing anything wrong.