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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Pontocaine, Viractin

Generic Name: tetracaine topical (Pronunciation: TET ra kane TOP ik al)

What is tetracaine topical (Pontocaine, Viractin)?

Tetracaine is a local anesthetic (numbing medication). It works by blocking nerve signals in your body.

Tetracaine topical cream or ointment is used to reduce pain or discomfort caused by minor skin irritations, cold sores or fever blisters, sunburn or other minor burns, insect bites or stings, and many other sources of minor pain on a surface of the body.

Tetracaine topical solution is used to numb the skin or surfaces inside the mouth, nose, and throat to lessen the pain of inserting a medical instrument such as a tube or scope. The solution may also be used to numb the surface of the eyes before a diagnostic or procedure.

Tetracaine topical may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of tetracaine topical (Pontocaine, Viractin)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using tetracaine topical and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • severe burning, stinging, or sensitivity where the medicine is applied;
  • swelling, warmth, or redness;
  • oozing, blistering, or any signs of infection; or
  • eye irritation, watering, or increased sensitivity to light.

Rare but serious side effects may include:

  • nervousness, dizziness, blurred vision;
  • drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out;
  • breathing problems;
  • fast or slow heart rate; and
  • weak pulse, fainting, slow breathing (breathing may stop).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild stinging, burning, or itching where the medicine is applied;
  • skin tenderness or redness; or
  • dry white flakes where the medicine was applied.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about tetracaine topical (Pontocaine, Viractin)?

An overdose of numbing medications can cause fatal side effects if too much of the medicine is absorbed through your skin and into your blood. This is more likely to occur when using a numbing medicine without the advice of a medical doctor (such as during a cosmetic procedure like laser hair removal). Overdose symptoms may include uneven heartbeats, seizure (convulsions), coma, slowed breathing, or respiratory failure (breathing stops).

Your body may absorb more of this medication if you use too much, if you apply it over large skin areas, or if you apply heat, bandages, or plastic wrap to treated skin areas. Skin that is cut or irritated may also absorb more topical medication than healthy skin.

Use the smallest amount of this medication needed to numb the skin or relieve pain. Do not use large amounts of tetracaine topical, or cover treated skin areas with a bandage or plastic wrap without medical advice. Be aware that many cosmetic procedures are performed without a medical doctor present.

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to tetracaine or other numbing medicines such as lidocaine, benzocaine, or prilocaine.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse within the first 7 days of using tetracaine topical. Also call your doctor if your symptoms had cleared up but then came back.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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