Sore throats can be a real nuisance, and they are often accompanied by discomfort, pain, and difficulty swallowing. Whether yours is caused by a cold, allergies or other factors, finding relief is a top priority. One common solution for soothing a sore throat is benzocaine, an over-the-counter medication known for its effective numbing properties.
What is Benzocaine?
Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that belongs to the class of medications known as topical anesthetics. It is commonly used to relieve pain and itching associated with various conditions, such as minor skin irritations, sunburn, insect bites, mouth pain, sore gums, and sore throat.
How Does Benzocaine Work?
Benzocaine is a local topical anesthetic that works by temporarily numbing the nerves in the area where it is applied.
Nerve Signal Inhibition
Benzocaine belongs to a class of compounds known as ester local anesthetics. When applied to the skin or mucous membranes, benzocaine molecules diffuse into the nerve endings in the affected area. Nerves transmit pain signals to the brain when they detect harmful stimuli, such as tissue damage or inflammation. Benzocaine works by blocking the transmission of these pain signals.
As a result, the nerve endings in the treated area become temporarily desensitized, leading to a loss of sensation in that specific region. This numbing effect can provide relief from pain or itching for a period of time, typically lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the concentration of benzocaine used.
Use benzocaine products only as directed and avoid excessive or prolonged use, as it can lead to side effects such as skin irritation or an allergic reaction. Precautions should be taken when using it in sensitive areas like the mouth or throat, as improper use can lead to serious complications.
Always follow the instructions provided with the specific benzocaine product you are using, and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or experience adverse effects.
What are some of the Uses of Benzocaine?
Benzocaine oral drug products are a versatile local anesthetic that has several medical and non-medical uses.
Throat Lozenges and Sprays
Benzocaine is a common ingredient in throat lozenges, sprays, and lozenges designed to provide temporary relief from sore throat pain. Instasoothe™ Sore Throat + Pain Relief Spray is an effective benzocaine product for throat pain relief.
Topical Pain Relief
Benzocaine is commonly found in over-the-counter topical creams, gels, and ointments used for oral pain relief as well as to relieve minor pain and discomfort associated with conditions such as muscle aches, joint pain, arthritis, mouth pain, and sprains. It can also be used to treat teething pain.
It is used to alleviate itching, burning, and discomfort caused by minor skin irritations, including insect bites, poison ivy/oak, rashes, and sunburn as a numbing medication.
It is found in some analgesic sprays used for pain relief in various areas of the body.
First Aid Kits
Benzocaine products are often included in first aid kits for their pain-relieving properties.
Sore Throat Relief with Benzocaine
When benzocaine is used for throat relief, it's typically available in the form of lozenges, sprays or gels. These products are designed for topical application directly to the throat area. Here's how benzocaine works to provide relief:
Upon application, benzocaine starts to work quickly by numbing the sensory nerves in the throat. This numbing effect reduces the perception of pain or discomfort, making it easier to swallow and speak without irritation.
In addition to numbing, benzocaine can also help soothe throat irritation. Sore throats are often accompanied by inflammation and redness, and benzocaine's soothing properties can provide relief from these symptoms.
Benzocaine oral drug products provide temporary relief. They do not treat the underlying cause of the sore throat, such as a bacterial infection. Instead, it offers a respite from the discomfort while your body's immune system works to heal the underlying issue.
Forms of Benzocaine for Throat Relief
Benzocaine is available in various forms designed for throat relief, and the choice of product may depend on your personal preference and the severity of your sore throat. Some common forms of benzocaine for throat relief include:
- Throat Sprays, like the InstaSoothe™ Kickstart Sore Throat Spray, provide powerful sore throat relief
- Gels and Ointments
- Combination Products
Home Remedies to Relieve Your Sore Throat
Relieving a sore throat at home can often provide comfort and help alleviate the discomfort. Here are some home remedies you can try:
- Warm Salt Gargle: Mix half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and use it as a gargle. Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat by reducing inflammation and killing bacteria.
- Honey and Warm Water: Mix a tablespoon of honey into a cup of warm water or herbal tea. Honey has natural antibacterial properties and can help soothe a sore throat. Be cautious with honey for children under one year old due to the risk of botulism.
- Herbal Teas & Throat Coat Tea: Drink herbal teas like chamomile, ginger or licorice root tea. These teas may have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
- Throat Coat Tea is an herbal tea that contains ingredients like slippery elm and marshmallow root, which can help coat and soothe the throat.
- Warm Ginger Water: Make ginger tea by steeping fresh ginger slices in hot water. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of warm water and gargle with it. The acidity of vinegar can help kill bacteria and ease throat discomfort.
- Humidifier: Use a humidifier in your room to add moisture to the air. Dry air can irritate the throat, and a humidifier can help keep the throat moist and comfortable.
- Rest and Hydration: Make sure to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Drinking fluids helps keep the throat moist and can thin mucus, making it easier to swallow.
- Steam Inhalation: Inhale steam from a bowl of hot water by covering your head with a towel and leaning over the bowl. This can help moisturize and soothe the throat.
- Avoid Irritants: Stay away from tobacco smoke and other irritants that can exacerbate a sore throat.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with a sore throat. Follow the dosing instructions carefully.
Benzocaine is a valuable over-the-counter medication for providing temporary relief from sore throats and throat irritation. However, it's important to use benzocaine products as directed and with caution, as improper use can lead to adverse effects. If an improper dosing is suspected, contact your poison control center immediately.
While benzocaine can offer relief from the symptoms of a sore throat, it does not treat the underlying cause. If you have a persistent or severe sore throat, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. In most cases, sore throats are caused by viral infections and resolve on their own, but in some instances, they may require medical intervention.
- Mayo Clinic (2023),Benzocaine (Topical Application Route)
- Cleveland Clinic (2023), Benzocaine Lozenges
- National Library of Medicine (2011), Efficacy of a benzocaine lozenge in the treatment of uncomplicated sore throat
- ENT and Allergy Associates (2019), 16 Best Sore Throat Remedies to Make You Feel Better Fast, According to Doctors