Science and Tech


FDA warns popular pain-relief creams may pose dangerous health risks

The products in question contain high levels of lidocaine, and are typically used to alleviate some of the pain associated with cosmetic procedures. 
A sign for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Posted at 8:07 PM, Mar 26, 2024

If you get microdermabrasion treatments, laser hair removal, tattoos and piercings, you may want to keep reading this.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is sounding the alarm on popular over-the-counter topical pain-relief products over potentially dangerous side effects.

According to the FDA, it has issued warning letters to six companies for violating federal laws by “marketing unapproved, misbranded products” with higher-than-allowed concentrations of lidocaine.

“These products pose unacceptable risks to consumers and should not be on the market,” Jill Furman, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a press release. “We are committed to using all available tools to stop the sale of these illegal high-risk products.”

The FDA notes that the problem with these products, which are used to alleviate some of the pain associated with cosmetic procedures, is that they have too much lidocaine, which can cause serious side effects like an irregular heartbeat, seizures, and breathing issues. Furthermore, if used on a large portion of skin or irritated skin, it can cause serious injury. 

If you are going to use a product containing local anesthetics, the FDA recommends not using anything containing more than 4% lidocaine, not using it on large areas of skin, and not wrapping the product onto the skin with dressings or plastic wraps. 

The products in question are: 

• TKTX Numb Maximum Strength Pain Reliever, TKTX During Procedure Numbing Gel and J-CAIN cream 

• NumbSkin Lidocaine Numbing Creams

• Signature Tattoo Numbing Cream and Miracle Numb Spray

• Painless Tattoo Numbing Cream and Painless Tattoo Numbing Spray

• New & Improved Blue Gel, Superior Super Juice, Premium Pro Plus, Five-Star Vasocaine and Maximum Zone 1

• INK-EEZE Original B Numb Numbing Gel, INK-EEZE B Numb Numbing Spray Black Label and INK-EEZE B Numb Numbing Foam Soap

For more information on the products, you can read the FDA's warning here.