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Benzocaine is a local anesthetic used for pain relief. It can be found in most pharmacies. Benzocaine is associated with a rare but serious (and sometimes fatal) condition called methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream is greatly reduced. Benzocaine is a topical analgesic (meaning it is used on the body surface or in the mouth but should not be swallowed) and has several different uses in over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Depending on the dose and form, benzocaine can be used to relieve a sore throat or to address oral pain caused by herpes labialis, mouth ulcers, teething, and other problems. It can also help relieve itching and burning of the vulva, pain, and itching caused by hemorrhoids, as well as relieving minor skin irritation, pain, and itching. Next is a description of the properties and functions of benzocaine.
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l Physical properties
Benzocaine, with the chemical formula C9H11NO2, is an organic compound. It is a colorless rhomboidal crystal, odorless and tasteless. It is soluble in alcohols, ethers, and chloroform, soluble in almond oil, olive oil and dilute acids, but insoluble in water.
Benzocaine is a local anesthetic. It is irritating to the respiratory tract and causes coughing and shortness of breath after inhalation. In rare cases, oral administration can cause cyanosis. It is irritating to the eyes and sensitizing to the skin. It is also a serious environmental hazard.
Benzocaine is mainly used in sunscreen and tanning cosmetics. It is chemically stable to light and air, safe for the skin, and also has the ability to form films on the skin. It is effective in absorbing ultraviolet light in the U.V.B. region in the 280-320 μm mediumwave light region. The addition level is usually around 4%.
Benzocaine is also a local anesthetic (a numbing agent). It works by blocking the nerve signals in your body. Benzocaine is used topically to relieve pain or discomfort caused by minor skin irritations, sore throats, sunburn, vaginal or rectal irritation, ingrown toenails, hemorrhoids, and many other sources of minor pain on the surface of the body. Benzocaine is also used to numb the skin or surface of the mouth, nose, throat, vagina, or rectum to relieve the pain of inserting medical devices (such as tubes or speculum). It is important to note that topical benzocaine should not be used to treat teething pain in infants and is not approved for use in children under 2 years of age. However, there are many brands and forms of benzocaine available topically.
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