Published on 9 March 2023 at 14:45

Topical anesthetics, more familiarly known as skin numbing creams can be used during skin penetration procedures such as tattooing, body piercing, laser treatment, tattoo removals or aesthetic work to reduce pain or sensitivity in the areas they are applied. 

Some people have high pain tolerance and see the pain as a part of the process, others don’t. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay as comfortable as possible during the session, numbing creams can help with relieving any discomfort from your procedure.


But how do these tattoo anesthetics work? And what ingredients do they contain?

Most topical anesthetic products will contain up to 5% of “lidocaine”. The higher the percentage, the more effective and stronger the numbing ability - the more comfortable and less painful your treatment!

The active ingredients in TKTX numbing cream (10 grams) are: 5% lidocaine, 5% prilocaine and 1% epinephrine.

So let’s dive a little deeper into each active ingredient.


Lidocaine belongs to the family of medicines called local anesthetics. Using this in cream makes your skin numb. It works by stopping nerve endings in the skin from sending pain signals to your brain and is mainly used before any cosmetic session that involves a needle. 


The structure of prilocaine is very similar to that of lidocaine. Its working time is slower than that of lidocaine, and its duration is slightly longer. The combination of these two is used in cream and patches to numb the skin and enhance the anesthetic effect.


Epinephrine (or also commonly known as adrenaline) keeps the lidocaine localized, making it harder for the lidocaine to flow out of the targeted area. Where lidocaine decreases any sensation of discomfort when the (tattoo) needle first breaks the skin, epinephrine makes the blood vessels tight, decreasing swelling and bleeding during the process.


Are there possible side effects?

In addition to the desired effect, these ingredients can cause side effects. The main side effects are the following:
Rare (affects 1 to 10 people in 100)
Skin irritation: You will notice this, for example, by red skin, swelling at the injection site, itching, tingling or a burning sensation. Consult your doctor if this does not go away.


Summary of important reminders

  • Lidocaine skin cream works quite quickly. Most people will start to feel a numbing effect within 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Only use the cream on undamaged skin. Do not put it on cuts or grazes.
  • Lidocaine skin cream is generally very safe. The most common side effects are itching and tingling.
  • Avoid scratching or rubbing the treated area of skin, or exposing it to extreme heat or cold, until the numbing effect has worn off.
  • If you buy lidocaine skin cream to use before a cosmetic procedure, tell the person doing the procedure that you've used it.

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