The Use of Lidocaine in Managing Wounds
by Aletha Tippett, MD
What is Lidocaine?
Lidocaine is typically used to reduce sensation in tissue in a specific area. Lidocaine can be either injected or applied topically, depending on need. This topical anesthetic is popular because of its low cost and minimal side effects. Once applied, lidocaine typically takes about four minutes to begin affecting sensation, and effects can last for between a half hour and three hours, depending on dosage. One of the main benefits of lidocaine is its rapid onset of action; while stronger or longer-acting substances may be preferred for surgical procedures, lidocaine’s fast-acting nature makes it perfect for reducing pain in a wound.
Lidocaine has been my go-to product for wound care for over 20 years. I always use viscous lidocaine applied to any dressing. A patient might need systemic pain relief also, but the application of topical lidocaine is very effective to help alleviate local pain of wounds. Since I have used lidocaine so long for thousands of wounds I can say it definitely helps the healing of wounds. Having a nearly 100% healing rate speaks to that.
The newest thing that I found out about lidocaine was recently published in Wounds regarding lidocaine's bacteriostatic properties. A study was conducted with surgical wounds, some had lidocaine applied, others had saline applied. The post-surgical infection rate with the lidocaine wounds was much less than the wounds with saline application. This tells me why I rarely had wound infections in all the years treating wounds with lidocaine.
Tips for the Application of Lidocaine
To use lidocaine to treat pain in a wound, just apply a small amount, about 1-2 grams, of oral viscous lidocaine to the dressing. then apply this side to the wound. Because of its viscous nature, lidocaine can be used on any type of dressing. Apply the side of the dressing with the lidocaine to the wound. The affects should begin within a few minutes, providing pain relief to your patient. Change daily or as needed and provide further systemic pain relief if necessary.
So, if you have not used lidocaine for wound care, consider starting to use it. You will be very happy with the outcome.
Note: Aletha Tippett, MD, is a family medicine and wound care expert, founder and president of the Hope of Healing Foundation®, a family physician, and international speaker on wound care. This article was originally published as part of the WoundSource Trending Topics series; permission for its use on this blog was provided by the author.
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