What is benzocaine?

What is benzocaine?

What is benzocaine?

Benzocaine is the active ingredient used in all of our anaesthetic throat spray range, helping to soothe the pain of a sore throat so you can get on with your day in comfort. But what actually is benzocaine and how does it work?

Keep reading to learn more.

What is benzocaine used for?

Benzocaine is one of a few medicines known as local anaesthetics. This means that they stop you from feeling sensations in a small area around where they are applied – hence the name local anaesthetic.

Of course, the main benefit of a local anaesthetic is that it relieves pain, but other sensations within the affected area can also be blocked. For example, this can mean that you don’t feel the gentle pressure of your toothbrush when brushing if you’ve recently applied the local anaesthetic. 

However, it also can make it hard to avoid biting your tongue or cheek by accident, which is why it’s recommended not to eat or drink anything until the anaesthetic has worn off. In the case of throat sprays, it can be a great choice to use benzocaine immediately before going to bed, as the spray can soothe your sore throat for long enough to let you get to sleep and will have worn off in time for breakfast the next morning.

Local anaesthetics like benzocaine work by blocking the nerves in the affected area. Simply put, the nerves are prevented from sending pain signals to your brain. While the pain still exists, you can’t feel it because your brain doesn’t know it exists. This can be really helpful if you have something like a sore throat that just needs time to heal, as it allows you to alleviate the pain while you wait for your body to fight off the infection causing it. Local anaesthetics typically get to work in a very short time in order to provide relief.[1]

To be clear, benzocaine and other local anaesthetics don’t treat the cause of your sore throat, or other illnesses or injuries. All they do is relieve pain, so if you have a sore throat caused by strep throat, for example, you may still need to visit a pharmacist or GP for treatment to tackle the infection.[1,2]

Can I buy benzocaine over the counter?

If you’re looking for topical pain relief, local anaesthetics are one option to consider. For minor illnesses, you can get local anaesthetics such as lidocaine and benzocaine in sprays, gels and ointments that are often sold over the counter or with a pharmacist’s supervision in chemists and supermarkets across the UK. 

This type of local anaesthetic should be all you need for a sore throat, so you’re unlikely to need access to prescription-level local anaesthetics. These are usually reserved for serious or chronic pain, such as a long-term nerve condition or if you’re having surgery. 

If you’re fighting off a sore throat infection, you can find Ultra Chloraseptic’s range of anaesthetic throat sprays in a wide range of stockists, including pharmacies, high street shops, supermarkets and online retailers. 


[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/local-anaesthesia/ 

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/strep-a/