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By Amelia McGill, The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy

Curist delivers FDA-approved medicines to your door at a fraction of the price of traditional brands. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this time.

What is Lidocaine? How does Lidocaine Work?

Lidocaine is a type of anesthetic, and can temporarily limit sensations or pain. Topical lidocaine products can be bought over the counter at various strengths or concentrations. 

Lidocaine works by temporarily blocking the skin’s nerve endings to limit sensations. Therefore, individuals can use lidocaine to relieve burning or itching, such as the sensations caused by nerve pain, sore muscles, sunburn, insect bites, and other minor ailments. However, lidocaine will not treat the underlying condition that causes the unwanted pain or itchiness. 

To purchase lidocaine products, check out the Lidocaine Collection at Curist.

What are the Differences Between Lidocaine Cream vs Lidocaine Ointment vs Lidocaine Patch vs Lidocaine Spray vs Lidocaine Roll On?

Lidocaine is available in a variety of dosage forms (applicator types). These products contain lidocaine for application to the affected skin (topical). These products all relieve pain or itching directly at the application site; however, each product has some critical differences. 

Before using any of these products, it is essential to have clean and dry hands and skin. Do not apply any lidocaine product on an open wound, severe burn, and cracked or inflamed skin without a physician's order. 

Lidocaine Cream

Lidocaine cream is applied by rubbing the cream onto the treatment site. Lidocaine cream is a water-based formulation; therefore, it has a semi-thick consistency and is easy to apply and massage into the skin. Its effects can be felt within 30 minutes and last up to approximately 3 hours.

Lidocaine Ointment

Similarly, lidocaine ointment is applied by rubbing the ointment onto the treatment site. However, ointments are oil-based; therefore, lidocaine ointment has a thick, greasy consistency. Lidocaine ointments will stay on the skin for an extended period and can provide added barrier protection for sensitive sites.

Lidocaine Patches

Lidocaine patches are applied to the site of the pain or itching. The lidocaine patch has an adhesive that helps it stick and it will slowly deliver the medicine over an extended period. Lidocaine patches should not be used on open wounds or along with a heating pad, as the heat will cause more medicine to absorb into the skin. Additionally, patches should stay dry before and during use. Patches are an excellent alternative for areas that are hard to reach with  creams or ointments, such as an area usually covered with clothing. They can be used for 8 to 12 hours per application (depending on the specific product) or up to 3 times daily. 

Lidocaine Spray

Lidocaine spray is sprayed onto the skin at the treatment site. A lidocaine spray may be preferred if the site is painful to the touch, because a spray is a gentle mist. Lidocaine will begin working quickly. 

Lidocaine Roll On

Lidocaine roll on is applied directly onto the treatment area using the rolling applicator. The roll on formulation is a no-mess alternative to some of the other formulations.

Pros and Cons of Different Lidocaine Products




All Lidocaine Products

Can help temporarily relieve pain or itching

Will not treat or cure underlying cause of conditions

Lidocaine Cream

  • Easy to rub onto treatment site
  • Dries quickly
  • May unintentionally be wiped off 
  • Requires direct application

Lidocaine Ointment

  • Provides extra protection due to its thick consistency 
  • Stays on the skin longer
  • Thick product, may feel greasy
  • Requires direct application

Lidocaine Patch

  • Longest acting
  • No mess
  • Need to keep patch in place for relief 

Lidocaine Spray

  • No mess application
  • No touch application
  • May require multiple applications

Lidocaine Roll On

  • No mess application
  • Easy to transport
  • May require multiple applications

Which Topical Formulation of Lidocaine is the Strongest: Lidocaine Patch, Lidocaine Ointment, Lidocaine Cream, Lidocaine Roll On, or Lidocaine Spray?

All lidocaine formulations have similar strengths, and offer similar relief of pain or itchiness. Most over-the-counter lidocaine products will have a strength of 4% to 5%. This indicates the amount of the active ingredient in the product, or in this case, the amount of analgesic causing relief. Lidocaine creams, lidocaine ointments, lidocaine roll ons, and lidocaine sprays can all be purchased without a prescription up to 5% strength. Lidocaine patches can be purchased up to 4% strength without a prescription. It should be noted that lidocaine patches typically have longer-lasting effects of up to 12 hours due to the lidocaine’s slower (sustained or extended) release through the patch.

To purchase lidocaine products, check out the Lidocaine Collection at Curist.

Can I Use Lidocaine Products Together?

No, using any two lidocaine products together - whether a lidocaine patch, lidocaine cream, lidocaine ointment, lidocaine spray, or lidocaine roll on - is not recommended. Although each product is safe to use, the combination of lidocaine products together may increase the risk of too much active ingredient (lidocaine) at one time which could have adverse side effects. 

Where Can I Buy Lidocaine Products Online?

Lidocaine cream and lidocaine patches can be bought in-store or online at many pharmacies, including Curist.

At Curist, you can buy FDA-approved medications, which will be delivered to your door. To learn more about our products, shop Curist:

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Lidocaine Cream & Patches

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This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.