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Understanding The Differences Between Benzocaine And Lidocaine

Posted on June 12 2018

Here we have compared lidocaine and anesthetic in their uses and forms, efficiency and side effects.

Lidocaine and benzocaine are the two most used forms of a local anesthetic. Both cause a particular area of the skin to be insensitive to pain without leading to a loss of consciousness.

Benzocaine And Lidocaine

Simply put, lidocaine and benzocaine desensitize the skin against pain or sensation. This is why they are used in painful processes like tattooing and piercing; dermal processes; and surgical incisions.

Despite having a similar mode of action within the skin, they are different in potency and structure.

These differences make them appropriate for different medical conditions. For example, lidocaine is more effective than benzocaine when it comes to numbing the skin for critical processes like tattooing, piercing and surgical incisions. But benzocaine is safer for mucus membranes like lips and anus than lidocaine.

Here we have come up with such key differences between benzocaine and lidocaine. And it will help you make a right buying decision.


Lidocaine and benzocaine have different chemical structure. Lidocaine has the amide chain, making it an amide anesthetic which can be broken down in the liver. Benzocaine, on the other hand, is an ester anesthetic.

The Effectiveness of Pain Relief:

Lidocaine is considered as a powerful numbing agent than benzocaine. According to one study, 2% of lidocaine cream is equally effective to 20% benzocaine gel in minimizing the pain intensity of needle insertion. It means that lidocaine is ten times effective than benzocaine.


Although both are topical anesthetic and used to dull the skin, they also differ in uses.

Being the strongest numbing agent, lidocaine is ideal for intense and long processes like tattooing, piercing, laser treatment and surgical incisions. For example, lidocaine cream is ideal for preparing the skin for tattooing that is painful and lasts for hours.

However, it is not recommended for the treatment over soft tissues like lips, tongue and anus. Benzocaine is a mild numbing agent and safe for mucus membranes like tongue, gums, and anus. Sometimes it is used to reduce the pain of inserting a medical instrument such as a tube inside the mouth, nose, throat and vagina. It is also used in sunburn products, oral ulcer ointments, and ear drops.

Side Effects:

Lidocaine and benzocaine should be used carefully. A wrong use may lead to toxicity as they are topical anesthetic penetrating deeper into the skin. Using them in excess or wearing for longer can make the person vulnerable to irregular heartbeat, troubled breathing, seizure and even coma and death.

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 you must have understood the key differences between lidocaine and benzocaine. Make sure to choose the right one with the right percentage of these numbing agents.

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