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What are the Differences between Benzocaine and Lidocaine?

Posted by Ann V. On 2016 Dec 11th

What are the Differences between Benzocaine and Lidocaine?

Here we have rounded up the major differences between lidocaine and benzocaine in terms of uses, forms, efficiency and side effects.

Lidocaine and benzocaine are the two common forms of a local anesthetic. Both numb the skin patch without leading to a loss of consciousness. They are widely used in painful processes like piercing, tattooing and surgical incisions.

Despite having a similar function, they are different from each other in terms of potency, structure and efficiency. Each anesthetic has its own characteristics, making it suitable for different procedures.

For example, lidocaine is more effective than benzocaine when it comes to numbing the skin for critical processes like tattooing, piercing and surgical incisions. Benzocaine, on the other hand, is suitable for mucus membranes like lips and anus due to its mild intensity.

There are many more factors they are different from each other. Learning the key differences between these two anesthetic will help in buying the right product.


Lidocaine and benzocaine come with a different chemical structure. Lidocaine is an amide anesthetic due to its amide chain, and can be broken down by the liver. Benzocaine is defined as an ester anesthetic.


Lidocaine is dubbed as a powerful numbing agent than benzocaine. According to one study, 2% of lidocaine is equivalent to 20% of benzocaine when it comes to reducing pain caused by a needle insertion. This way, lidocaine is ten times more effective than benzocaine.

Where They Can Be Used:

Both are topical anesthetic and numb the skin. However, each one is used for the particular body part. As the intense numbing agent, lidocaine is ideal for tattooing, piercing, laser treatment and surgical incisions. But it is not suitable to be used over soft tissues like tongue, anus and lips. Here comes benzocaine that is a mild numbing agent.

It is safe for tongue, gums and anus. It is also used to minimize the pain caused by insertion of medical tools like a tube inside the nose, throat, mouth and vagina. Some products like ear-drops, oral ulcer ointments and sunburn products contain benzocaine.

Side Effects:

Topical anesthetic have a tendency to penetrate the skin when applied. This is why they should be used carefully. Otherwise, they can pose certain side-effects. The common side effects are skin redness, burning, itching, and troubled breathing. Therefore, you should use topical anesthetic as per the instructions given on the pack. In case of unpleasant effect or the symptom persists, contact your doctor.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lidocaine is more effective than benzocaine
  • Lidocaine guarantees quick pain relief
  • Benzocaine is ideal for mucus membranes
  • Lidocaine is great for processes like tattooing, piercing, laser treatments and surgical incisions
  • Benzocaine can be used to relieve sunburn, ulcers and skin itch.

So this is how benzocaine and lidocaine are different from each other. All you need to choose the right brand and follow the instructions to get the maximum (and safe) numbing effect.