What Is Numbing Spray?

Rashes from poison ivy may be less painful after using a numbing spray.
A numbing spray may be used before a person is to receive an injection.
A woman with waxed legs.
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  • Written By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Many different types of numbing spray are available, and they can be used in a variety of applications. Some sprays contain strong anesthetics like benzocaine and others merely contain herbal products. Situations where a numbing spray may be useful range from simple procedures like waxing up to medical problems like burns or poison oak rash. If a numbing spray contains a drug, then serious side effects may occur, especially if the product instructions are not followed carefully.

The simplest form of numbing spray contains only natural products. The manufacturers of this type of spray typically market it toward people who wish to numb the skin before beauty treatments like waxing. Example ingredients include the essences of peppermint, aloe vera and patchouli.

Some products for the waxing market may contain controlled anesthetic medications. Lidocaine is one of these anesthetic ingredients. A typical lidocaine concentration in the bottle is about four percent. Generally, the person sprays the product onto the skin to be waxed and waits a few minutes for the spray to numb the area.

Those with medical problems may also be able to soothe skin with numbing sprays. Products for medical use typically use ingredients like benzocaine or lidocaine. These are drugs that usually offer a more significant anesthetic capability.


Conditions that may benefit from numbing sprays are generally skin conditions. These include temporary issues like sunburn and poison oak irritation. Rashes from poison sumac, poison ivy and local irritation from insect bites may also be less painful after using a numbing spray, as can mild cuts. Symptoms from more severe skin problems such as burns or hemorrhoids may also be soothed by these sprays.

Anesthetic medications carry side effects, even though they are not ingested or injected. The risk of these adverse reactions still exists. A user can inadvertently apply too high a dose on his or her skin, if the area of skin application is too large, or if more than the recommended dose is applied. Drugs that a person applies on the skin can move through the skin barrier and into the body as well.

Possible lidocaine side effects include mental confusion, vision issues and irregular heartbeats. With benzocaine, a spray user can experience dizziness, difficulty breathing and other serious issues. Numbing sprays may also be dangerous if someone sprays them into the mouth, throat or eyes, and can even cause a lethal condition where the body cannot circulate enough oxygen. Potentially lethal allergic reactions, though rare, can also occur.


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