What is Prilocaine?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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Prilocaine is local anesthetic used to numb a person’s skin and tissues. This medication is often made available as a cream that is topically applied, but it may also be available in an injectable form, which should always be administered by a specially trained professional. Its effects are not instant, but once a person experiences the associated numbness it may last for hours. During this time, it is important for a person to heed her health care provider’s advice so that she may avoid injuring herself.

Health care providers use prilocaine to dull the feeling in areas where they will administer injections or conduct certain procedures. This medication is considered a local anesthetic because it is generally applied to the area where it is needed. For example, if a dentist were using it, he would likely inject the medication into the gums near the site of his work area.

In addition to its injectable form, this medication is also available as a cream. The cream is applied topically to a specific area. It may require more time to take effect than an injection, and its effects may be more limited. In either case, once the numbness begins it may continue for hours.


During this time, it is important for patients to adhere to any advice given by the health care provider to help avoid injury. This may include avoiding eating, using hot water, or scratching. The risks of these seemingly normal activities arise because the numbness could allow a person to expose herself to harm without realizing it. For example, when using hot water she may burn herself, or when eating she may bite her tongue.

Health officials advise that this medication never be used on open wounds. If used properly, prilocaine is generally not considered dangerous. It is common for a person’s ability to determine temperature to be affected by this medication, and the individual may notice that the area where it was applied turns red or becomes inflamed. There are some side effects, on the contrary, that should be brought to a health care provider’s attention immediately, such as blurred vision, difficulty breathing, and irregular heartbeat.

If an individual has a known allergy to prilocaine, this should definitely be communicated to any health care providers who plan to use it. There are, however, other conditions that need to be disclosed before this medication is used. These include pregnancy, heart disease, and kidney disease. Since prilocaine has the potential to have adverse interactions with other medications, it should also be reported if a person is taking items such as acetaminophen, quinine, or nitrates.


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