Product Type: EMLA health products
Newest Review: ... white in colour and quite thick in consistency. It doesn't really smell of anything, although my friend says it smells quite medicinal - I... more
EMLA for pain free blood tests
EMLA cream 5%
Member Name: Vialdana
EMLA cream 5%
Advantages: Numbs the area and stops you feeling any pain. Also can make it easier for them to find a vein.
Disadvantages: Generally has to be purchased by you in advance
These days I'm quite lucky and don't have to have too many blood tests, and when I do we have a phlebotomist at my surgery who's very good. However, in the past I've had to have whole series of blood tests and dealt with some people who've really struggled to get blood from my veins. The problem is twofold. Firstly, I have very deep veins that don't like to be found, and secondly I have fibromyalgia so it's not exactly pain free having them poke around to find the vein.
The first time I had EMLA cream recommended to me it was a nurse at the hospital who after attempting to find a vein in each arm, the back of both hands, and then my ankles said ok EMLA time and smeared hands and inner elbows with thick white cream, stuck clear plasters over them and sent me back to the waiting room for 20 minutes. When I was called back in, she got a vein first time and explained to me that this cream, as well as numbing the area somewhat, also helps to make the veins pop up more. Waayhaay a new way for me to get blood taken with less pain and more quickly I thought.
Unfortunately on my next trip to the doctors when I needed blood taken, I mentioned EMLA cream, and was told that they don't provide it for adults as a general rule - therefore, if I wanted it used, I must purchase my own. They were happy to write me a prescription, and so off I went, got it filled, and then came in with cling film wrapped round hands and elbows to stop it moving (best I could manage and it worked lol).
I have to say that getting EMLA on prescription is quite a costly way to get it if you pay for your prescriptions like I do, as you can buy the same size small tube for around £3-5 direct from a chemist or online.
The tube you get is very small - only around 5 grams, but that's not an issue, as you don't need much, and 1 tube will do me both inner elbows and backs of both hands with no problem (I no longer bother putting it on the backs of my hands as I know they'll get a vein with this stuff in the usual location).
EMLA cream contains two anaesthetics to numb your skin. Lidocaine and Prilocaine. These both work by blocking out the pain that travels from the nerve endings so you don't feel anything. As to the ingredient that makes the veins 'pop' I have no idea, and in fact have heard other people since say that it has the opposite effect and can make them harder to find so that's a little strange really, but either way it works well for me when necessary.
Now, different people seem to have different theories on how far in advance you should apply the cream. On the instructions that come with it, it normally says at least an hour or two (some brands seem to suggest as much as five hours before), but I've always found 30-40 minutes to be enough for me in order for it to be pain free and easy for a blood test. When they're ready to do the blood test, just wipe the cream off with a tissue and you're ready to go.
EMLA cream is available in chemists, but you'll find you generally have to ask for it as it's kept behind the counter and you may even have to speak directly to the pharmacist before you can get it as they do like to check about other medications you're taking in case of contraindications.
There are other uses - not all medical - that EMLA can be used for too, for example some people use it when they're getting their bikini area waxed, and others when they have tattoos or piercings done. It IS a medication however, and like with all medications, it is much better to buy this at a chemist where you can speak to the pharmacist rather than buying it online where you won't be asked any questions - at least the first time you buy it anyway. Whether you do buy it online or in a store, make sure you do read the leaflet that comes with it carefully as although most of the side effects that you may experience (such as the skin where it's applied going whiter), are harmless, there are others which are more serious so it's best to know the score before you use it.
Summary: A great way of removing the pain from having blood tests if you struggle with this.
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