How Do I Apply Lidocaine Ointment?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 19 February 2019
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Lidocaine ointment is a type of medication that is applied directly to external body surfaces. It is used to treat pain and itching due to minor skin irritations and rashes. It is also used as a topical anesthetic to treat minor pain in the mouth and throat. Methods of application depend primarily on the condition being treated and the location.

For skin conditions such as sunburn, minor scrapes and rashes, lidocaine ointment should be applied first to a sterile gauze pad, directly from the container, usually some type of squeeze tube. This prevents contamination of the remaining ointment. Then, the ointment should be gently applied, using a circular motion, to the affected area. It is not necessary to rub the ointment until it is completely absorbed. Simply rubbing it onto the surface a little is sufficient. Minor cuts and other skin injuries can also be treated this way.

Even though ointment can be absorbed by the skin, lidocaine ointment is not generally used on unbroken skin. It will not help the pain from a bruise, for example. Only conditions on the skin surface such as sunburn and rashes will be affected. Lidocaine ointment is effective as a treatment for both pain and itching, and so may be useful for treating insect bites and conditions like shingles. In all cases, the gauze pad application method is preferred.


When used in the mouth, lidocaine ointment should be applied using a sterile swab. Apply the ointment directly to the swab from the tube. Dry the surface to be treated as thoroughly as possible and apply ointment promptly. This will help the ointment to stick and be absorbed. It may be beneficial to use cotton balls to absorb saliva until the ointment is absorbed and has had a chance to take effect.

Using lidocaine ointment orally requires some special considerations. It can numb the area affected and so increases the patient's risk of accidentally biting his or her tongue or inside of the cheek. It also can interfere with swallowing. For these reasons, no food or drink, chewing gum, or candy should be used or consumed for at least an hour after use.

As with any medication, you should follow the instructions that come with lidocaine ointment. or follow your doctor's instructions for it's use. Some people may be allergic to the medication, and some other medical conditions may preclude its use as well, so it is important to thoroughly read any information that accompanies the medication


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Post 3

I work in the medical field and I've noticed that patients make some of the same mistakes when applying topical ointments. It's always a good idea to clean cuts and scrapes first before applying anything.

Ointments should be applied thinly for the skin to absorb it easily. Putting huge amounts is not the best way to do it. It's better to apply a thin layer several times a day than to apply a thick layer once. If the skin isn't broken, some gentle rubbing is acceptable to promote absorption.

I've also seen people cover the area after they apply lidocaine. I even saw a patient who had tightly bandaged it. If you cover up immediately after applying the

ointment, the fabric will absorb the ointment, not the skin. Bandaging with the ointment can also cause the ointment to irritate skin.

When I use lidocaine ointment, I gently rub in a thin layer and wait for my skin to completely absorb it before I pull down my clothing on the area.

Post 2

@ZipLine-- I think it's okay as long as you don't use the same finger to to get some of the ointment again. You might forget in the hurry of things, so why not use some clean cotton or something?

I used lidocaine ointment after I got my tattoo. I was applying it with a cotton swab. My tattoo didn't get infected so I guess that's a good way to do it.

Post 1

I don't use a gauze pad to apply lidocaine cream, but I wash my hands and take some of the cream on my finger and apply it. Will the ointment still get contaminated?

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