The Food and Drug Administration is warning the public that benzocaine, which is found in Baby Orajel, Orajel, Anbesol and other over the counter gels and liquids used to soothe and reduce mouth and gum pain, is associated with a rare, but possibly fatal condition called methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia causes the amount of oxygen carried through the blood steam to be greatly reduced and can even result in death.
Here is what the FDA is advising:
- Benzocaine products should not be used on children under 2 unless under the advice and supervision of a health care professional.
- Patients and caregivers should use the smallest amount possible to relieve pain and the product should not be applied more than 4 times per day.
Signs of methemoglobinemia include pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips and nail beds; shortness of breath; fatigue; confusion; headache; lightheadedness; and rapid heart rate. The FDA states that signs of methemoglobinemia may appear within minutes or even 1-2 hours after using benzocaine. Symptoms can occur after using the product for the first time or after several uses.
Here are some alternative pain remedies to help soothe your teething baby:
- Let your child suck on a chilled teething ring or a cold washcloth
- Rub or massage your child’s gums with your fingers
- Break out the teething toys – Learning Curve Massaging Action Teether and Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether are two of my favs!
For more information regarding methemoglobinemia and the FDA’s recommendations, see this safety announcement.