Emla Cream (lidocaine/prilocaine)
Numbing cream helps to ease the pain of cosmetic and medical procedures that involve needles or lasers by temporarily numbing the skin. You can buy numbing cream over the counter without the need for a prescription.
Emla numbing cream helps to numb the skin before needle or laser procedures
Emla is a numbing cream for reducing the pain of needle procedures, including injections, vaccinations and blood tests, as well as cosmetic skin procedures involving needles or lasers, such as tattoos or laser hair removal.
To achieve the numbing effect, you’ll need to apply Emla to the skin around 60 minutes before the procedure and always cover the area with a suitable occlusive dressing. Typically, the numbing effect then lasts for two hours following removal of the cream, however this time is shorter when Emla is used on your face.
Emla is available without the need for a prescription, meaning you can purchase the numbing cream from your local pharmacy or online. You’ll just need to answer some simple questions, so we can make sure this treatment is right for you. Depending on your needs you can buy either a small (5g) tube of cream which is suitable for two applications or a larger (30g) tube.
Find out more about our range
Emla Cream 5g tube (no dressings)
Enough for around two applications, this pack size is suitable if you have an occasional need for Emla and if only a small area of skin requires numbing e.g. before vaccinations or blood tests. This pack does not come with dressings so you will need to obtain these separately.
Emla Cream 5g tube and two dressings
In addition to the 5g tube of cream, this pack contains two of the air-tight (occlusive) dressings needed to cover Emla, so it absorbs into the skin and does not get wiped off.
Emla Cream 30g tube (no dressings)
A larger-size tube, which is suitable if you need to numb a larger area of skin e.g. prior to having a tattoo or laser hair removal. This pack does not contain dressings, so make sure you purchase these separately.
Emla Cream 5x5g tubes and 12 dressings
A multiple pack containing enough Emla and dressings for over 10 applications of cream, when covering a small area of skin. This pack is suitable if you are likely to use Emla frequently prior to procedures such as blood tests, injections or cannula insertion.
Emla cream frequently asked questions
What is Emla cream?
Emla is a numbing cream, which can be placed on the surface of the skin to help numb the pain of needle procedures and cosmetic skin procedures.
Emla contains two active substances, lidocaine and prilocaine, which together create its numbing effect. The other ingredients are macrogolglycerol hydroxystearate, carbomer 974P, sodium hydroxide and purified water.
What is Emla used for?
Emla is used to numb the skin prior to medical and cosmetic needle procedures, such as blood tests and injections. The cream can also be used for superficial skin procedures involving needles or lasers, such as tattoos, laser hair removal and cosmetic dermal procedures.
Who can use Emla numbing cream?
Emla is suitable for adults and children of any age, from full-term birth. Emla should not be used for premature babies, if born at 37 weeks or earlier. However, premature birth does not prevent the use of Emla after they reach term dates. From this point, standard age-related dosing guidance from the Patient Information Leaflet can be used.
How do I apply Emla cream?
To apply Emla place a thick blob of cream on the area of skin which requires numbing (check with your practitioner if you are unsure) and don’t rub it in. Cover the cream with an air-tight, water-tight (occlusive) dressing so the active ingredients get absorbed into the skin and do not get wiped away.
Emla should be applied around an hour before your needle procedure to allow it to achieve its numbing effect. The length of time for which Emla should be applied to the skin can vary with age and according to the procedure. Therefore, make sure you check the Patient Information Leaflet and follow the instructions provided for your situation.
If using Emla for a child less than one year old, the application time is limited to one hour. If you are applying cream to a child, see Emla’s helpful video for a step-by-step guide.
How long does Emla cream last?
The duration of Emla’s numbing effect may vary depending on the type of procedure, for how long the cream has been applied, and to which part of the body. Typically, Emla should be applied 60 minutes in advance, as in most cases it takes 1-2 hours for Emla to numb the skin, depending on the type of procedure.
If you are applying Emla to the body, once the cream is removed from the skin, the duration of the numbing effect is at least two hours. If you are applying Emla to the face, the maximum numbing effect is obtained after 30-60 minutes and the duration of effect may be shorter than the usual two hours.
If using for a child less than one year old, the application time is limited to one hour. Also take care if you have atopic dermatitis as an application time of 30 minutes may be enough and longer periods may cause local skin reactions.
Otherwise you can leave Emla on for up to five hours. Please note that application for longer than five hours is not recommended.
What are the possible side effects of Emla?
Like all medicines, Emla can cause side effects, although not everyone will experience them. A mild reaction (paleness or redness of the skin, slight puffiness, initial burning or itching) may occur on the area on which Emla is used. This is common and should disappear in a short while. If you experience any troublesome or unusual effects while you are using Emla, stop using it and check with your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.
Can Emla cream be used for tattoos?
Emla cream can be used for tattoos. We suggest you speak to your tattoo artist before your tattoo session to let them know that you will be using Emla to numb the area. You’ll also want to keep in mind the length of time you are being tattooed as well as the size of your tattoo. Emla’s numbing effect lasts for at least two hours when applied as directed, which may be enough for your tattoo appointment, however for larger pieces the numbing effect may not last for the whole time. The size of the area of skin you are getting tattooed will also affect the pack size of Emla cream you purchase.
What are lidocaine and prilocaine?
Lidocaine and prilocaine are the active substances in Emla cream that create the numbing effect. Lidocaine and prilocaine are local anaesthetics that only target the specific area of tissue to which they are applied.
How to apply Emla on your child
Unsure how to use Emla? View Emla’s handy step-by-step guide to find out how easy application really is. This example relates to a childhood immunisation, but the overall approach can be followed for other procedures.
Emla Cream for topical anaesthesia of the skin. Always read the label. Aspen Pharma Limited. UK-LIDP-00010. June 2021.