What is the Lidoderm Patch?
The Lidoderm Patch is brand name for a local anesthetic used to treat the pain that occurs following an outbreak of shingles within a patient. The Lidoderm Patch is a type of lidocaine transdermal patch that is a local, non-pill, anesthetic might also be used for other forms pain management as well. It blocks nerve pain signals. Doctors prescribe it for post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), also known as post-shingles pain.
Patients are able to apply up to 3 patches once a day. Doctors determine how many patches the patient can use at once and for how long they are allowed to remain on the patient’s body. Patients should never wear these anesthetic patches for a duration longer than twelve hours each day. Use patches only on unbroken, unblistered skin. Cut them to size depending on the area where they will be applied. Patients should take care not to touch their eyes directly after applying the patch. They should wash their hands well immediately after application. Do not reuse patches, and, for safety, keep them well out of the reach of children and pets.
If patches do get into the grasp of children or pets and the patches are sucked on or swallowed, immediately seek medical attention, as the patches could be very harmful.1 The Lidoderm Patch brand contains 5% lidocaine on a felt backing of non-woven polyester, and it contains a total of 700 mg of lidocaine.2
Uses for the Lidoderm Patch
Patients who have been infected with the herpes zoster virus, commonly known as shingles, are likely to experience intense nerve pain after an outbreak (post-herpetic neuralgia). Lidocaine can reduce the pain, as well as numb the areas of the skin that have now become overly sensitive. The local anesthetic works by temporarily numbing the feeling of pain in the affected area.3
Pain relief can be immediate. However, it could take up to about two weeks for the full effect to be achieved. PHN pain can be debilitating in that even the presence of a light breeze, change in the temperature, or the touch of bed sheets can trigger the stabbing, itching, aching, or burning pain. These sensitive areas may last for months or even years. Patients who can point to the area of pain are the ones for whom doctors may prescribe a lidocaine transdermal patch, such as Lidoderm. Pain that is more general or harder to identify the location of will not easily allow the patches to provide relief. Pain may be present in the face, chest, back, arms, and abdominal region.4
Patients who know that they are allergic to local anesthetics or any lidocaine should not use this patch. Inform the doctor if the patient is pregnant, breastfeeding, expecting an upcoming surgery, even something as minor as dental surgery, or any other medications and vitamin supplements that patient is using.
Some of the side effects of using the patches might be redness, swelling, burning, or discomfort in the area where any of the patches were applied. More serious side effects include the following:
- excessive thirst,
- fast pulse,
- fainting, and
- difficulty breathing.5
Patients could also experience uneven heartbeats, confusion, convulsions, tremors, and blurred vision. If any of these side effects happen, patients should immediately discontinue use of the patch. Side effects like mild irritation or minor numbness in surrounding areas where the medicine has been accidentally applied are not necessarily a cause for worry.
While on the patch, patients should avoid exposing it to heat sources, such as hot tubs, electric blankets, prolonged sunlight, etc. That’s because the heat can trigger the release of more of the drug into the body immediately rather than over time. As a result, it increases the risk of the possibility of more side effects. The most minimal amount of medication is all that should be needed in numbing the pain. Both the use of large amounts of lidocaine topical and covering the treated areas of skin with an additional bandage or plastic wrap should not be done without medical advice.6
Lidoderm vs. Over-the-Counter
One study was done to test the efficacy of using over-the-counter lidocaine and menthol patches rather than prescription lidocaine patches. It was found that the menthol patches demonstrated no inferiority to the prescription patches. It is believed that it is the menthol in the over-the-counter patches that increase the permeability of the skin and allow for an increased efficiency in drug delivery to the painful area which, in addition to the lower cost, might make the menthol lidocaine patches favorable. Whichever method of anesthetic dispersal, it has been shown that these lidocaine patches are effective in pain relief.7
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