The FDA is warning patients and healthcare providers about the potentially serious hazards of using prescription or OTC topical anesthetics, such as lidocaine, for relieving pain from mammography and other medical tests and conditions.

Applied improperly, these products can cause serious, life-threatening adverse effects such as irregular heartbeat, seizures, breathing difficulties, coma, and even death.  Improper use includes: applying to a large area of the skin; applying a large amount to the skin; applying to broken or irritated skin; or covering the skin with a wrap or using a heating pad after applying the topical anesthetic.  

For more information visit www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm092082.htm.