The Food and Drug Administration has issued an advisory to remind patients, caregivers and health professionals about the potentially serious hazards of using skin-numbing products -- topical anesthetics -- for relieving pain from conditions and medical tests, including mammograms. The warning applies to over-the-counter anesthetics as well as prescriptions.
A topical anesthetic works by blocking the skin's pain sensations. When used, it appears that some of the anesthetic may can pass through the skin and into the bloodstream.
Under these circumstances, the amount of anesthetic medication that reaches the bloodstream is unpredictable and may be high enough to cause life-threatening adverse effects such as irregular heartbeat, seizures, breathing difficulties, coma and even death.
The FDA warning is here.
From the FDA site:
The FDA strongly advises consumers not to:
* make heavy application of topical anesthetic products over large areas of skin;
* use formulations that are stronger or more concentrated than necessary;
* apply these products to irritated or broken skin;
* wrap the treated skin with plastic wrap or other dressings; and
* apply heat from a heating pad to skin treated with these products.