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How Do I Apply Skin Numbing Cream?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 21, 2024
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Before some painful cosmetic procedures, people may numb the skin with a topical numbing agent. A skin numbing cream can be applied to the skin several minutes or a couple of hours before a procedure of this sort. After the skin has been washed, a couple of layers of the cream can be rubbed onto the skin. Some people wrap the area in plastic wrap, but many medical experts believe that this can cause severe problems and may even be fatal.

Cosmetic procedures like waxing, tattooing, and laser hair removal can all be somewhat painful. To minimize this pain, a topical anesthetic can be used. This type of numbing agent dulls the sensation in the top layers of skin. Some professionals, like hair removal specialists or tattoo artists, may provide these types of numbing agents, but they can also be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies.

Numbing cream can be applied to the skin several minutes before a procedure or a couple of hours before a procedure. For less painful procedures, like waxing, it can be applied roughly a half an hour beforehand, just to take the edge off the pain. For more painful procedures, like tattooing, a few layers can be applied, beginning a couple of hours beforehand.

Applying a skin numbing cream is typically very easy. For the best results, it should be applied in layers. A thin layer should first be applied to the skin and rubbed in, followed by a thicker layer of cream, which should not be rubbed in. Instead, it should sit on the skin for a while. Some people cover the numbing cream with plastic wrap. This helps warm the area, which can help make the cream more potent.

Many medical experts, however, strongly advise against covering skin numbing cream with plastic wrap while it is on the skin. This practice could possibly lead to severe side effects. This practice allows a high amount of the cream to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Experts also warn against applying very thick layers of the cream. These types of creams should also only be applied to small areas. Also, heat should never be used to make skin numbing cream more potent, and it should never be applied to broken skin. Improper use of these types of numbing agents can result in severe side effects, including breathing problems and comas. In a few cases, improper use of skin numbing creams has even been fatal.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Talentryto — On Feb 11, 2015

@raynbow- I don't think that you should apply the numbing cream any sooner than an hour before your appointment. If you are prone to side effects, you will be more likely to experience them the longer you leave the cream in place.

I've used numbing cream before, and I applied it about 15 minutes before my procedure. This was plenty of time for the cream to do its job, and the procedure was virtually painless.

By Ocelot60 — On Feb 11, 2015

@raynbow- The effects of numbing cream doesn't take long to kick in and doesn't fade quickly, so you shouldn't have any problems if you use the cream before you leave your house for your appointment.

By Raynbow — On Feb 10, 2015

I'm having laser hair removal, and my doctor gave me a jar of skin numbing cream to apply before I go to my appointment. I am concerned about pain, so I'm wondering what is the ideal amount of time to apply the cream prior to my procedure. If I put it on too soon or too late, will I experience more pain?

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