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What Are the Common Side Effects of Lidocaine?

An upset stomach and nausea can be caused by lidocaine.
Some people who use lidocaine may get headaches.
A vial of lidocaine.
Lidocaine cream often contains hydrocortisone as well.
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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
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Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that most often comes in the form of a topical spray or cream, an injectable solution, or a transdermal patch, a band-aid like sticker attached to the skin at the site of pain through which the pain killer is release. Side effects of lidocaine topical spray or gel are rare, but can include a mild biting or burning sensation at the site of application. The most common side effects of injectable lidocaine are tremors, lightheadedness, difficulty sleeping, and abrupt personality changes. Common side effects of lidocaine in the patch form are skin problems at the site of the patch such as a burning sensation, rash, or blisters, but other side effects do include headaches and an upset stomach with nausea.

Sprays or creams containing lidocaine can be used as a topical pain reliever for minor procedures such as needle injections or laser surgery. This form of lidocaine can also be combined with other medications, such as hydrocortisone or aloe, to provide pain relief for reactions to poisonous plants, insect bites, or sunburn. Since the dose of these over-the-counter forms of lidocaine are small and directions for their use are clear, it is often rare to see any side effects of lidocaine in this form unless the medication is misused. Rare side effects to watch for are a burning or biting sensation which does not subside. If this side effect occurs, consult with a pharmacist or doctor.

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Injectable lidocaine is used most often to treat localized pain associated with arthritis, to treat irregular heartbeats and seizures which are unresponsive to other treatments, and as a local anesthetic during minor surgery. Side effects for injectable lidocaine are tremors, lightheadedness, difficulty sleeping, and sudden changes in the patient’s personality. Often these side effects are dose-dependent, and by adjusting the dose of the lidocaine the side effects can be eliminated or controlled.

The lidocaine transdermal patch is typically prescribed to treat discomfort associated with shingles. The most common side effects of lidocaine in this form are skin problems localized to the site where the patch is applied, and typically include an unpleasant burning sensation, rash, or blisters. These adverse reactions usually develop within a few hours, and if use of the patch is discontinued the skin clears up fairly quickly. The patch should never be applied to skin that is already damaged, cut, or sore, since the patch may aggravate these conditions.

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Discuss this Article

anon958025
Post 4

I just had carpal tunnel surgeries (both hands) and had a terrible reaction to the lidocaine: dizziness, abdominal pain, brain twinges, faint feeling, nauseau and one horrendous itching type rash on both forearms and lower legs, which started spreading upward on arms and legs after three days of this and using a very heavy strength cream of cortisone to use, but had to discontinue and went back to over-the-counter cortizone 10 due to liver and kidney reaction.

The rash is starting to go away, finally. I had a reaction back in 1990 but after all these years was advised it should be O.K. now. Ha! Everyone should check side effects of any drug they are given, I guess. (I went back to using milk thistle and dandelion for liver healing.)

discographer
Post 3

@turkay-- I think those side effects may also be due to the cortisone, or it may be that you are sensitive to lidocaine injections and get side effects because of it.

I personally get lidocaine injections for my migraine and I've never had any side effects except for some temporary pain at the injection site. I get a lot of relief from them and I have heard the same from my friend who is under the same treatment.

I think lidocaine is one of the safest pain management medications in terms of side effects. But everyone does react different to the same drug.

Is it possible for you to just get lidocaine injections? That would help you figure out if the side effects are really from the lidocaine or not.

candyquilt
Post 2

I got a cortisone and lidocaine injection yesterday for my arthritis. It's the first time I've ever gotten them. My lower back feels a lot better since yesterday but I've also been feeling lightheaded and nauseated. And I had the hardest time falling asleep last night.

I wasn't sure if the cortisone is causing this or lidocaine, but the article mentions these side effects for lidocaine, so I guess that's the culprit.

I don't know if I'm going to get a lidocaine injection again. If I see a considerable relief from my arthritis pain, which is what seems to be happening now, I might go for more. I just hope that the nausea and lightheadedness wears off in the next couple of days and my body adapts to it.

Has anyone else gotten lidocaine injections before? Have you noticed that the side effects wear off over time or become less with more injections?

burcinc
Post 1

I have lidocaine in gel form along with aloe vera. It's meant to be used with burns, insect bites and cuts. It works great for burns and insect bites. It doesn't have any side effects other than a little numbness which is exactly what I want.

But when I apply it on cuts or broken skin, it burns really bad! I had a scratch on my face from playing with my cat the other day. It was hurting a lot and my mom told me to put some lidocaine on it. But the skin hadn't closed yet and it burned like crazy. I had to wipe it off with a tissue.

So I don't like to use lidocaine creams and gels for anything other than burns and insect bites.

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