Although Lidocaine 5% and Emla cream have similar uses, recent clinical studies show that, when used as directed, Emla cream may be more effective.
Lidocaine and Emla cream are both used as a numbing agent for some skin conditions and as an analgesic for minor treatments and surgical procedures done near the anal or genital regions. They are also used by tattoo artists and plastic surgeons.
Lidocain 5% is packaged in the form of a gel. It is available over the counter at a much lower price than Emla cream.
Emla is a combination of 2.5% lidocaine and 2.5% prilocaine. Unlike Lidocaine 5%, it is only available as a prescription.
A double-blind study done by the Department of Oral Medical and Surgical Sciences at the University of British Columbia compared the numbing effects of Lidocaine 5% and Emla cream. In the study, researchers applied the creams to patients' mouths and then measured the depth of pain-free probing in the premolar region.
Patients who received Lidocaine 5% experienced pain-free probing for 1.9mm. However, patients who were given Emla cream did not experience pain until a depth of 2.8mm.