Benzocaine is a topical anesthetic ingredient in sprays, gels, and lozenges. It is contained in many types of over-the-counter (OTC) products including gels for toothaches, sore throat sprays and lozenges, sunburn sprays, and many others. Benzocaine can cause a blood disorder which causes low oxygen in the brain. It is particularly dangerous for children under two years old.


Benzocaine can cause methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried by the blood is greatly reduced. It can be fatal. Those who survive can suffer permanent brain injury.

Symptoms of methemoglobinemia include:

  • Pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips, and nail beds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart rate

Greatest Danger for Infants

Benzocaine is found in teething products, and numbing gels for tooth and gum pain such as Anbesol and Orajel. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against using benzocaine in children under two years old and says that of the 29 reports of benzocaine gel-related cases of methemoglobinemia it has received, 15 cases were in children under two.

Adults are Also at Risk

Although the risk is highest for children, and especially very young children, adults can also develop methemoglobinemia from benzocaine use. Adults at higher risk for methemoglobinemia complications include smokers, those with heart disease, and people with breathing problems including asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.

Benzocaine Products

Benzocaine is an ingredient in a wide variety of OTC products including toothache and gum pain gels, teething gels, denture creams, sore throat sprays, bug bite and sting remedies, sunburn sprays, canker sore medicine, hemorrhoid medicine, feminine creams, and condoms.

Some examples of benzocaine products include:

  • Anbesol Gel
  • Orajel
  • Cepacol Dual Relief Sore Throat
  • Chloraseptic
  • Hurricaine
  • Lanacane
  • Solarcaine Aerosol
  • Sting-Kill

Benzocaine products are also used in health care settings such as in the doctor or dentist’s office and in the hospital. Benzocaine sprays are used to numb the mouth and throat for procedures including:

  • Endoscopy
  • transesophageal echocardiogram
  • Intubation
  • Feeding tube replacements

If you or your child has been injured by Benzocaine, you may be entitled to compensation. Please, find a Benzocaine injury attorney in your area and schedule and initial consultation to learn more right away.