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Numbing Cream for Cannulation: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Ann V. On 2016 Jul 25th

Numbing Cream for Cannulation: Everything You Need to Know

Cannulation does hurt! Learn here how numbing cream can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with cannulation.

Cannulation is a technique which involves insertion of cannula, a needle shaped tube, inside the vein to collect blood samples or deliver the fluids, medication and blood products to the body.

Since it is done by inserting a needle in the skin, many people fear cannulation. Cannulation causes moderate or severe pain in kids and adults. It is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans have fear of needles (trypanophobia).

Some medical facilities have procedures in place to mitigate the pain and discomfort caused by cannulation, especially in kids.

However, a study conducted on the national level revealed that emergency departments rarely use drugs to minimize pain and discomfort during the placement of IV catheters into kids’ skin. According to a report published in NCBI, less than half the medical and surgical doctors used local anesthesia like numbing cream. The report further states that the “recommendations to use localanesthesia seem to have been ignored, and in many instances these procedures are more painful than necessary.”

The report concluded by saying that the “juniordoctors are giving their patients more pain than is necessary.”

Why Pain Relief is Important in Cannulation?

On the basis of the reports listed above, one can say that the use of local anesthetic is not that encouraging. It may not only lead to painful procedures, but also increases anxiety about future treatment and discourage patients from getting help.

Even worse, the fear of the process can prompt an autonomic response, which can lead to vasoconstriction.

It also makes the insertion difficult for the physician, requiring him several attempts to get venous access. This way, it may lead to infection and other complications.

How Pain in Cannulation is alleviated?

From distraction to motivation, there are several ways to control pain and discomfort occurring in the process. A practitioner can use ethyl chloride, intradermal or subcutaneous injection of lignocaine, EMLA cream and distraction techniques to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with cannulation.

Why Numbing Cream is Effective in Cannulation Pain?

Numbing creams have been proven to be effective in managing pain associated with cannulation and vaccination process. According to one study, Lidocaine 4% cream is effective in managing pain for cannulation in both kids and adults.

Numbing cream is a form of local anesthetic that blocks the pain sensation by dulling the pain receptors. In this way, you don’t feel anything done to your skin.

Given that a practitioner may not use a local anesthetic before the procedure, you should apply it on your own.

How to Choose Right Numbing Cream for Cannulation?

Luckily, there is plethora of numbing creams to choose from. However, choosing the right one may be tricky for number of reasons.

Make sure the cream is effective in dulling the skin for cannulation.

Here are some tips to choose a numbing cream for cannulation:

Check Ingredients of Numbing Cream:

Check the formulation of numbing cream. Some numbing creams contain benzocaine that is mild numbing agent ideal for mucus membranes like lips and anus. It may not ensure you a strong numbing effect required for cannulation process on the other parts.

Here you need to choose lidocaine based numbing cream. Lidocaine is considered as the strongest numbing agent that can keep your skin desensitized for longer. Make sure to choose the numbing cream with 5% lidocaine.

Check the User Reviews:

You should check user’s testimonials to get an idea about the cream’s efficiency. You can check the reviews on e-commerce sites and the social media pages of the numbing cream. You can also ask your dermatologist or the medical practitioner about the suitable numbing cream for cannulation.

How to Use Numbing Cream for Cannulation?

Prepare the Skin:

First of all, you need to remove the oil and debris accumulated over your skin as numbing cream is better absorbed by clean skin. So, use soap and water to clean the skin. After that, pat it dry with clean cloth or towel.

Apply the Thick Layer of Numbing Cream:

Now, take out numbing cream in liberal amount or as mentioned on the pack. Spread the cream over the skin. Also see the pack for specific instruction to apply the cream.

Cover the Skin with a Plastic Cling:

After applying the cream, cover the skin area with a plastic cling. It will generate heat for patenting numbing effect. However, don’t cover your skin with cloth or heating pad as it may trigger complications.

Remove the Cover:

Wait for one hour and then remove the cover from the skin. Some numbing cream may require you to cover the skin for more or less than this time period. Therefore, read the instructions regarding the time frame of the cream.

Generally, you will start feeling numbness within 30 minutes of application.

What Precautions Should Be Taken While Using Numbing Cream?

Considering that numbing cream absorbs into the skin to create numbness, you should be careful while using numbing cream for cannulation. A wrong use of numbing cream may trigger various health hazards. According to FDA, numbing cream absorbs into the blood stream and may cause life threatening side effects like heartbeat, seizures, breathing difficulties, coma, or even death. FDA also claims to receive “reports of adverse events and deaths of two women who used topical anesthetics before laser hair removal.”

Here are the things you should keep in mind while using numbing cream for cannulation.

  • Choose the cream with 5% of Lidocaine.
  • Don’t use numbing cream on broken or irritated skin like wound, scar and rashes as the content can enter the blood stream.
  • Never use numbing cream on the tongue, near eyes or inside the nose. Remember, it is for external use only.
  • Avoid covering the area with heating pad after applying the cream over it.
  • Never keep the numbing cream more than prescribed time period.
  • Consult your doctor if you are nursing mother, pregnant or having any medical condition.

Visit Your PhysicianIf you experience side effects like

  • Severe burning and irritation where the cream is applied
  • Redness and swelling.
  • Dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Swelling or redness.
  • Blurred vision or ringing in your eyes.