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Emla is the proprietry name of a brand of local anaesthetic ointment that is topically active. This means that it can be used to numb the skin. It is most commonly used when inserting an intravenous cannula or taking blood from those who find it extremely difficult to cope with pain. Both of these procedures are fairly painful, and certainly sting for a short time from when they are performed. They also need the patient to remain still during the procedure, as it is difficult if not impossible to be accurate with a moving target.

However, due to their delay in effect (at least 30 minutes) they are only used when necessary. Typically this is in children eg. 6 months to twelve years of age. Children above twelve are often happy to forgo the cream as long as they are given full choice, the procedure is explained, and they haven't been unlucky in the past. Other patient groups include some extremely anxious adults, and normally relates to needle phobia rather than pain thresholds.

Another brand name is AmiTop. The creams often cause vasoconstriction and actually make the procedure much more technically difficult for the doctor or nurse.

It has many other uses as well. For example, in cosmetics, Emla cream is often used to improve the customer experience during leg waxing or laser hair removal. It is used as a topical agent to reduce pain during male infant circumcision.

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