Prilocaine and Lignocaine

Medication Information Leaflet

What is this medication for?

  • This medication contains two topical anaesthetics, lignocaine and prilocaine. When applied to the skin, it causes temporary numbing of the skin (short term loss of sensation to the skin area)
  • It is used before procedures or injections to relieve the feeling of pain caused by the procedures or injections.

How should I take/use this medication?

  • Squeeze out the prescribed quantity of the cream on the area of the skin where the procedure or injection is to be done. Do not rub EMLA cream into the skin. 
  • Take one of the occlusive dressings provided, and remove the cut-out piece in the middle
  • Peel the paper liner from the framed dressing. 
  • Cover the EMLA cream with this dressing so that you get a thick layer of cream between your skin and the dressing. Do not spread out the cream. Press down on the sides of the dressing carefully to avoid leakages. It is important to cover EMLA cream with an air-tight dressing to ensure that the cream enters the skin properly and numbs the skin
  • Remove the frame of the dressing. Write down the time the cream was applied, directly on the dressing. 
  • Wash your hands immediately after using EMLA.
  • Remove the dressing and wipe off the cream after the recommended duration of application in the table below or as advised by your doctor.
​Type of procedures/ injections
​Patient groupDuration of application
​Minor procedures e.g., putting in needle, removal of molluscum bumps, or other minor skin operations ​
​ ​
​Infants 0- 12 months old
​1 hour
​Children 1- 12 years old
​1 hour; maximum 5 hours
​Children with atopic dermatitis or eczema
​30 minutes
​Adults and adolescents> 12years of age
​1 hour; maximum 5 hours
​Procedures that require deeper skin anaesthesia e.g., split-skin grafting 
​2 hours; maximum 5 hours
​Use on genital skin before injection of local anaesthetics
​15 minutes on male
60 minutes on female
​Use on genital mucosa before injection of local anaesthetics
​5-10 minutes
Dressing is not used.
​Cleaning of leg ulcers 
​30 minutes to 1 hour 
Your doctor may use EMLA cream for specialized procedures. Follow your doctor's instructions for use.

What should I do if I forget to take/use this medication?

EMLA is usually only applied once prior to each procedure. It must be in contact with the skin for a period of time for it to work. If you applied this medication later than directed, tell your health care professional before starting the procedure.

What precautions should I take?

  • Inform your healthcare professional if you have:
    • Allergy to prilocaine, lignocaine/lidocaine, local anaesthetics, or any of the other ingredients of this medication
    • Dermatitis or any other skin problems
    • Severe liver conditions
    • Severe heart rhythm conditions
    • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.
    • Methaemoglobinaemia (a blood disorder that causes the skin, especially around lips and nails, to turn brownish or greyish)
    • Infection, skin rash or broken skin at, or near the area where you want to apply EMLA cream
    • Plans to become pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • The skin on which EMLA cream is applied may stay numb for up to several hours after the cream is removed. For this reason, you should be careful to avoid accidental injury to the treated area, such as scratching, rubbing or exposure to extreme temperatures, until complete sensation returns.
  • Avoid getting EMLA cream in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you get EMLA in your eyes, rinse them with plenty of water. If the medication is swallowed, call a doctor immediately.
  • Do not apply to ruptured eardrum, anus, or children’s genital areas.
  • Children should be closely observed during and after use of EMLA cream, as they are at greater risk than adults for serious side effects, such as methaemoglobinemia.

What are some common side-effects of this medication?

Common side effects may include: whitening or redness of the site of application
  • Whitening or redness of the skin
  • Puffiness of the skin
  • Burning or itching on the site of application
These side effects may disappear during treatment. If any of the following effects persist or are severe, consult your doctor.

What are some rare but serious side-effects that I need to seek medical advice immediately?

These symptoms are unlikely to happen if the medication is used as recommended. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop the medication and see your healthcare professional immediately.
  • Allergic reactions which include 
    • Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
    • Difficulty in breathing
    • Itchy skin rashes over your whole body
  • Small red dots (petechiae) at the application site, especially in children with skin problems (e.g., atopic dermatitis or eczema).
  • Methaemoglobinemia 
    • Bluish or greyish color of the lips, nails, skin
    • Abnormal heartbeat
    • Seizures
    • Severe dizziness, passing out
    • Severe headache
    • Shortness of breath
    • Feeling weak or tired
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Change in balance or speech
  • Ringing in ears
  • Anxiety, restless, excitable, low mood
  • Feeling lightheaded, confused, or having blurred vision

What food or medication should I avoid when I take this medication?

Inform your doctor if you are taking 
  • Other medications, especially 
    • Antiarrhythmic drugs for heart problems e.g., amiodarone
    • Other local anaesthetics
    • Cimetidine
    • Beta-blockers
    • Other drugs which may trigger methaemoglobin formation e.g., sulfonamides, nitrofurantoin, chloroquine, dapsone, phenytoin, phenobarbital
  • Are taking supplements, traditional medications and herbal remedies

How should I store this medication?

Store in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Do not freeze. Keep this medication away from children. 

How should I throw away this medication safely?

Pack this medication into a black trash bag and seal it tightly before throwing it into the rubbish chute or bin. 

If you take more than the recommended dose, please seek medical advice immediately. The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.

Last updated on Sept 2022
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