The FDA warns that parents should never give teething babies Xylocaine numbing gel due to the risk of life-threatening side effects, including seizures, brain damage, and heart problems.
What is Xylocaine?
Xylocaine is a topical anesthetic (numbing) gel that contains lidocaine. It is used to control the pain of a sore or irritated mouth, usually by patients undergoing medical procedures. It is manufactured by AstraZeneca.
What is the problem?
It is not necessary or beneficial to rub Xylocaine onto the gums of fussy babies with teething pain because it washes out of the mouth within minutes. Furthermore, swallowing too much Xylocaine can lead to severe side effects, such as:
- Low blood pressure
- Brain damage
- Heart problems
- Heart attack
- Cardiopulmonary arrest
- Allergic reactions
FDA Requires “Black Box” Warning on Xylocaine
In September 2014, the FDA required a Boxed Warning on the label for Xylocaine to include the risk of seizures, cardiopulmonary arrest, and death in children under 3 years old.
In June 2014, the FDA issued a Safety Communication to warn against using lidocaine to numb babies with teething pain. The agency reported 22 cases of severe adverse events — including death — in infants and children under 3.5 years old who were given lidocaine.
Symptoms of Xylocaine Overdose
- Vision problems
- Falling asleep too easily
- Difficulty swallowing or choking
Benzocaine Also Poses Risks for Teething Babies
In 2011, the FDA also warned against giving benzocaine to children under 2 years old due to the risk of methemoglobinemia. These over-the-counter (OTC) products include Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase.
Teething is a painful process that can start anywhere from 3 months to 12 months of age. Symptoms include irritability, low-level fever, drooling, biting, waking up at night, and gums that are swollen and tender. The FDA recommended these alternatives to lidocaine:
- Use a cold teething ring that is chilled in the refrigerator (not frozen)
- Let the child chew on a clean, wet, cool washcloth
- Gently rub or massage the child’s gums with your finger