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Microneedles May Improve Anesthetic Effect of Lidocaine Cream

The practice of using microscopic needles is thought to create microchannels through the skin’s outer layer, which may improve transdermal drug delivery. A recent study investigated pretreatment with microneedles and the anesthetic effect produced by 4% topical lidocaine cream.

In the study, participants were randomized to either receive pretreatment on each volar forearm with an MR2 (0.2-mm) microneedle roller or a sham microneedle roller containing no microneedles. Topical lidocaine 4% cream was then applied to both arms with each participant serving as his own control. Pain was assessed using a spring-loaded needle lancet. The 4% formulation of lidocaine typically produces anesthetizing effects after 60 minutes. In the study, participants rated their pain at 2, 5, 10, and 30 minutes using a visual analog scale. Participants were further stratified as more or less pain-sensitive based on their ratings of pain from the spring-loaded needle lancets.

The results showed that overall pain with microneedle pre-treatment was significantly decreased at 30 minutes, but no earlier. For the more pain-sensitive participants, the pain level resulting from microneedle pretreatment followed by a spring-loaded needle lancet was significantly decreased at 10 and 30 minutes. The authors state that these results suggest that microneedle pretreatment can reduce incubation time to 30 minutes— and perhaps even to 10 minutes in more pain-sensitive individuals—to achieve sufficient anesthesia for needle insertion. The authors note that despite study limitations such as small sample size, and use of only one anatomical site, the findings of this study show that microneedles offer a minimally painful method of enhancing the effects of topical anesthesia.

Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: May 9, 2016

Source: JAMA Dermatology
Adapted from the original article.

[Image: Pixabay / PeteLinforth]

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