The FDA is warning parents not to use numbing gels like Xylocaine to soothe teething babies with painful gums because it can cause seizures, heart problems, brain damage, and even death.
Xylocaine is a prescription anesthetic (numbing) gel made by AstraZeneca. It contains lidocaine, a local anesthetic that is is used to treat the pain of a sore or irritated mouth and throat. It is primarily used by chemotherapy patients and others undergoing medical procedures.
What is the problem?
Parents have been known to give Xylocaine to babies suffering from teething pain by rubbing it on the gums. According to the FDA, this is not necessary or even helpful because it washes out of the mouth within minutes. Babies who swallow too much Xylocaine can develop a number of severe, life-threatening side effects.
Xylocaine Side Effects
- Low blood pressure
- Brain damage
- Heart problems
- Heart attack
- Cardiopulmonary arrest
- Allergic reactions
FDA Warning: Do Not Give Xylocaine to Babies
Xylocaine has a Boxed Warning about the risk of seizures, cardiopulmonary arrest, and death when it is given to children under 3 years old.
The warnings were added after the FDA issued a Safety Communication in June 2014. The agency reviewed 22 reports of children who were seriously injured or died after being given lidocaine for teething pain.
Signs & Symptoms of Xylocaine Overdose
- Vision problems
- Falling asleep too easily
- Difficulty swallowing or choking
Benzocaine Also Poses Risks
The FDA also warns against giving benzocaine products to teething babies due to the life-threatening side effect methemoglobinemia. These products include Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase.
How to Soothe Babies With Teething Pain
Teething is a painful process that usually begins around 7 months of age. As teeth come in, the gums become swollen and inflamed. Signs include fussiness, low-level fever, chewing, drooling, and waking up at night. Parents should not give babies numbing gels. Instead, the FDA recommends the following methods of soothing teething pain:
- Give the baby a teething ring that has been chilled in the refrigerator (but not frozen)
- Let the baby chew on a cool, wet, and clean washcloth
- Gently massage the baby’s gums with your finger