Lidocaine: Classification, Contraindications & Interactions

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Lidocaine is a medication most commonly used for numbing painful areas. In this lesson, we will learn more about lidocaine. We will learn the drug classification, contraindications, and interactions.

What is Lidocaine Used for?

Lidocaine is a medication that blocks nerve impulses. The nerves in your body carry signals from an area of your body to the brain. Sometimes these signals are good. If you pet a soft cat, the nerves carry this information to your brain to be interpreted. But if you hit your thumb with a hammer, the nerves carry this impulse to your brain and it is interpreted as painful!

Lidocaine is available in many different medications. It is available in an injectable form that is used to treat life-threatening heart rhythms. Most commonly it is used in a topical form to treat pain. We will focus this lesson on topical lidocaine.

Classification and Contraindications

Topical lidocaine is classified as an anesthetic. As we said earlier, it works by blocking nerve signals. It results in a numbing sensation of the area that it is applied to. It is applied to the skin to treat the pain from sunburn, bug bites, or poison ivy.

Your dentist might use viscous lidocaine and apply it to your gums to numb them before a dental procedure. Or if you have painful joints, your doctor might suggest applying lidocaine to treat the pain.

If you have had a reaction to other anesthetics, you should not use lidocaine. It shouldn't be applied to open areas of skin or if there is inflammation or infection to the area of skin.

Caution should be used with the young or the old. We briefly mentioned earlier that injectable lidocaine is used to treat life-threatening heart rhythms. Due to this action on the heart, if you have a heart condition, you should not use lidocaine. Using too much lidocaine or getting it into your blood stream can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of lidocaine overdose include a slow heart rate, slow breathing, drowsiness, and even seizures.

Do Any Drugs Interact with Lidocaine?

Although it isn't likely that other medications will interact with topical lidocaine, it is still very important to tell your doctor all medications that you are taking.

There are several medications that increase the risk of adverse effects when taken with lidocaine. One of those is a common medication, acetaminophen. When lidocaine and acetaminophen are used together, it increases the risks of an abnormal blood condition.

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