Lidocaine vs. Prilocaine

What's the Difference?

Lidocaine and Prilocaine are both local anesthetics commonly used in medical and dental procedures to numb the skin or mucous membranes. While Lidocaine is a fast-acting anesthetic that provides quick pain relief, Prilocaine has a slower onset of action but offers a longer duration of numbness. Both medications are generally well-tolerated and have similar side effects, such as skin irritation or allergic reactions. However, Lidocaine is more commonly used for procedures that require rapid onset of anesthesia, while Prilocaine is often preferred for longer procedures due to its prolonged numbing effect.


Chemical StructureAmideAmide
UsesLocal anesthesia, antiarrhythmicLocal anesthesia
Onset of ActionRapidRapid
Duration of ActionShortShort
Side EffectsMay cause skin irritation, allergic reactionsMay cause skin irritation, allergic reactions

Further Detail


Lidocaine and Prilocaine are both local anesthetics commonly used in medical and dental procedures to numb the area being treated. While they belong to the same class of drugs, there are some key differences between the two that are important to consider when choosing which one to use. In this article, we will compare the attributes of Lidocaine and Prilocaine to help you understand their similarities and differences.

Mechanism of Action

Lidocaine and Prilocaine work by blocking the transmission of pain signals along nerves. They do this by inhibiting the flow of sodium ions into nerve cells, which prevents the cells from generating an electrical signal. This results in the numbing of the area where the anesthetic is applied. Both Lidocaine and Prilocaine are fast-acting and provide effective pain relief within a few minutes of application.

Duration of Action

One of the main differences between Lidocaine and Prilocaine is their duration of action. Lidocaine typically provides pain relief for around 1-2 hours, while Prilocaine can last for up to 4 hours. This longer duration of action makes Prilocaine a preferred choice for procedures that require prolonged numbing, such as tattooing or minor surgeries. However, the shorter duration of Lidocaine may be more suitable for quick procedures or for patients who do not want to wait as long for the effects to wear off.

Side Effects

Both Lidocaine and Prilocaine are generally well-tolerated, but they can cause some side effects in some individuals. Common side effects of both drugs include redness, swelling, or itching at the site of application. Lidocaine may also cause dizziness, drowsiness, or a metallic taste in the mouth, while Prilocaine can sometimes cause methemoglobinemia, a condition where the blood is unable to carry oxygen effectively. It is important to discuss any concerns or medical conditions with your healthcare provider before using either of these medications.


Lidocaine and Prilocaine are available in various formulations, including creams, gels, sprays, and patches. These different formulations allow for flexibility in how the medications are applied and can cater to individual preferences or needs. For example, a gel may be more suitable for topical application to the skin, while a patch may be preferred for longer-lasting effects. It is important to follow the instructions provided with the specific formulation to ensure safe and effective use.


When considering Lidocaine vs. Prilocaine, cost may also be a factor to consider. In general, Lidocaine tends to be more affordable than Prilocaine, which may make it a more cost-effective option for some individuals or healthcare providers. However, the cost difference may vary depending on the formulation and brand of the medication. It is important to weigh the cost against the benefits and effectiveness of each drug when making a decision.


In conclusion, Lidocaine and Prilocaine are both effective local anesthetics that provide pain relief for various medical and dental procedures. While they work in a similar manner, there are differences in their duration of action, side effects, formulations, and cost that may influence the choice between the two. Ultimately, the decision of whether to use Lidocaine or Prilocaine should be based on individual needs, preferences, and the advice of a healthcare provider. Both medications have their own strengths and limitations, and understanding these differences can help ensure safe and effective pain management.

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