Knowledge Base

Topical Lidocaine

What is Topical Lidocaine?

Lidocaine (also known as xylocaine, lignocaine) is a local anesthetic. It is applied either as a cream or a patch to provide a sustained effect. The duration of effect can be as little as one hour or as long as several hours, depending on the mechanism of application.  

It has been found useful in the management of postherpetic neuralgia and other regional neuropathic pain problems. The most common applications of topical lidocaine are gel or skin patches.

How does it work?

Lidocaine alters nerve signals by blocking sodium channels and inhibiting the communication of pain. Not only does it halt the pain signals from transmitting, it can stop them from beginning as well. 

Related evidence

Derry S, Wiffen PJ, Moore RA, Quinlan J. Topical lidocaine for neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jul 24;7:CD010958. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010958.pub2.