Benzocaine: What It Is And How It Works

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that is used against oral and throat conditions. It works by blocking the transmission of nerve impulses.

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic to relieve certain types of pain. It has various presentations and each of them is used in very specific situations.

It is generally used against skin ulcers or to relieve various oral or throat conditions. And according to experts, this drug provides “temporary, non-causal relief from throat pain and irritation.”

Would you like to know more about this drug, what it does in the body and other interesting aspects? In that case, keep reading everything that we are going to tell you below.

About pain and medicines to treat it

Before learning more about benzocaine, it’s important to go over a couple of details around what pain is and how to properly address it.

Pain is a way for the body to indicate that something is not working as it should. That is why it appears in cases of illness, bumps, cuts and other health problems.

There are two groups of medications to relieve pain : analgesics and anesthetics.

  • Analgesics are responsible for preventing the transmission of the nerve impulse, numbing the area and making the pain not noticeable.
  • Anesthetics completely block pain, whether in a state of consciousness or asleep.

It is important to note that there is no anesthetic that can be used interchangeably, therefore, self-medication is not recommended. It must always be the doctor who prescribes the medications for their patients and the type of treatment they must follow.

Use of benzocaine


Benzocaine works by blocking the transmission of nerve impulses. The mechanism through which they achieve this effect is by blocking sodium channels.

It is indicated for local anesthesia of the mouth before a surgical operation or dental interventions. It is also used against small cuts, scrapes, sunburn or muscle pain.

In addition, it is used in the form of lozenges to dissolve in the mouth  to anesthetize small mouth wounds, such as canker sores. It is absorbed slowly, starting its action immediately and lasting around 10-15 minutes.


Their action on the heart means that these drugs are also used for cardiac arrhythmias, since  local anesthetics can depress the heart muscles.

For all the above, there are numerous presentations of benzocaine, both in the form of sprays, pills, suppositories, solutions and even in the form of gels for the gums or drops for optical application.

 Adverse effects of benzocaine

Most local anesthetics are highly effective and are used in routine practice. However, they must be used with great caution, according to the doctor’s indications, otherwise, adverse reactions could be experienced in some cases.

It should be noted that most local anesthetics cause both stimulant and depressant effects on the central nervous system. At low concentrations, depressants predominate, but when they increase stimulants are increased, which can cause restlessness or tremor.

In general, hypersensitivity reactions are less frequent, which can lead to the appearance of allergic dermatitis.

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Benzocaine should be used with great care in children as it can cause methemoglobinemia, an adverse reaction that can be fatal in some cases. In fact, it is totally contraindicated in children under two years of age, given the risk it poses to their health.

New perspectives of use for local anesthetics

In the future, blocking the sodium channels produced by analgesics may become a therapeutic strategy against other pathologies such as epilepsy, degenerative diseases or stroke.

For this reason, the potential of benzocaine and many other drugs continues to be investigated, with the aim of improving existing treatments and, of course, improving the quality of life of patients.

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