local anesthetics

Hi, I’ve had 2 one hour long sessions on my face(chin, upper lip, sides of face) using Blend and I find the pain extremely unbearable. I’ve had to ask my electrologist to lower the setting because it was just so bad. I’m afraid that the setting might be too low to do any good so I was wondering if anyone uses any kind of local anesthetic. I know of EMLA but I don’t want to use it mainly because I have to take the subway to get to my electrologist and I don’t want to have cream and saran wrap on my face while riding the subway. Does anyone know of any that you only need to leave on for like a minute or two so that the electrologist can apply it right before she attacks an area?

There is nothing better than L.M.X 5% or EMLA even with all the mess and hoopla. You can try taking internal medicine 1 hour to 90 minutes before electrolysis. A client I worked on yesterday (with red hair and blue eyes, incidently) took 3 advil before and was very comfortable. Now, Advil and products like it can irritate the lining of the stomach, so you might need to try and settle on another pain reliever if you get an upset stomach.

The good news: if you wait a little longer, there is a topical numbing product that works in twenty minutes to NUMB the skin and can be used for large areas. The product is S-CAINE. It goes on like toothpaste, dries and hardens, and then you peel it off like a band-aid after 20 minutes. It is in phase 3 FDA clinical trials and may be ready for market very soon. You can read about here:



You can do a google search for more information.

I think Johnson and Johnson - Ortho Neutrogena, Ferndale labs will have the contracts to produce and market this product in the near future. No idea of the cost involved.

In the meantime, hydrate yourself and dump the caffiene 3 days before,come to your sessions with low anxiety levels, and take some internal pain killers until S-Caine is approved or cleared by the FDA. It sounds very promising.


For those who have trouble living without caffeine, or who want to get rid of it on a permanent basis (advisable) get and take 2 L-Tyrosine 500mg pills when ever you normally drink coffee. You may want to take 2 pills 3 times a day. For absolute best absorption in the body, take them 30 minutes before eating anything with protein, or 90 minutes after eating protein.

If nothing else, this may keep you from getting withdrawal headaches.

I actually took an Advil(only 1) an hour before my appointment and it didn’t help at all. Clearly, by your suggestion I should have taken more. Not sure if taking 3 is a good idea though. Maybe I can try 2 Extra Strength Tylenol or 2 Advil. Any idea which one works better? Also, I drink tea up to the day before my appointment. Does that make a big difference as well?

Can someone explain what EMLA is?


You would need 2 Advil if one didn’t help. I did not advise my client how much Advil to take, she decided on her own to take 3 when two tablets didn’t help much the last time she was in. Tylenol would be okay, too, but Advil has the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory. It’s up to you alone or you with your doctor’s advice to decide on what is best for your pain relief. Try a couple different things and see what works.

If you must drink tea up to your appointment time, try drinking herbal tea, but honestly, plain water is the best prep three days prior to your appointment.


It is a white cream (or you can get it in a patch) that you put on your skin to decrease the sensation of pain. Sometimes it will completely numb an area. You leave it on for 2 hours with plastic wrap covering the area so it absorbs down deep pass the tough upper skin layer. It is used for all kinds of medical proceedures, including electrolysis and laser.

It is sold over the counter in some countries,meaning no prescription from your doctor is needed. You can order it online from some Canadian pharmacies. Cheapest I’ve seen is $31.00 for 30 gram tube.

It works great for some people and others it barely touches.

If you want to know more, you can get online to the Astra-Zenica website, the company that manufactures EMLA.


Check to see if the tea you have been drinking has caffeine in it. Even a small amount of caffeine can make your electrolysis experience an unneeded nightmare.

Don’t drink Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, or any other product with caffeine in it 3 days prior to treatment for best results. At a minimum, stay off it 24 hours prior to treatment.

One thing I realized toronto_chick, is that I forgot to include something I wanted to tell you about tea.

Some people are fooled by the label decaffienated tea. When a manufacturer says their tea is decaffienated, you assume that there is no caffiene present. However, there is a small amount present in decaffienated tea, 4 miiligrams per cup as oppossed to 30-50 mg for green or black tea. Coffee has a 100 milligrams per cup. Even at 4 mg. per cup in decaf tea, that could be enough, in some sensitive people, to trigger the pain sensation button when having electrolysis.

Herbal tea has 0 milligrams of caffiene. That’s why some like to drink chamomile tea at bed time.

You can try Anestop which works very well and is a topical clear gel. So you can put it on your way to the electrologist and nobody will notice it.

Is it possible for you to schedule your appts so that you’re spending 15-30 mins in the waiting room? This way you could have the cream and plastic wrap on your skin.

In a pinch, I have hid in the bathroom at work, put on the Emla (upper lip and chin) and waited about 10 mins. Some would absorb, and I’d rub the rest in so it wasn’t visible, and got on the train. (20 minute commute to the appt.) It wasn’t as powerful as letting the cream sit untouched on the skin, but it did take the edge off the treatment.

Also, if you’re having one-hour treatments, maybe just put the cream on the area that hurts the least (the way I describe above) while you travel to the appt. When you’re at your appt, have the electro put cream on the other areas and cover them, and she can start with the zone that you’ve anesthetized already. Half an hour or less into your appointment the other areas will be properly numbed and she can work on them.

Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I think I’m gonna try the small tube of emla and go a half an hour before my appointment so that I can apply it when I’m there. I had another appointment today and it hurt like hell. I realize now that I have a very low threshold for pain. I didn’t have any caffeine for about 48 hours before my appointment and I took two extra strength tylenol one hour and a half before my appointment. I was actually in more pain today than I was in my first two appointments. It was so painful that I was sweating and shaking during the appointment. The pain isn’t so much the zap as it is the length of time the current is applied. It’s for about 1 second or 2 seconds sometimes which is way longer than the current applied via thermolysis. I had thermolysis done once and it didn’t hurt at all except that the area was swollen and red for one day. Today, a lot of the times it felt like the current hit a nerve which is scaring me. Is this normal? Thanks again for all the suggestions.

Hey t_chick, do you feel comfortable enough asking your electrologist to lower the intensity and increase the time the probe is in the follicle? For instance, if her/his level is at 5 intensity for 2 sec. ask if she/he could lower the intensity to 3 intensity for 6 sec. Those levels are hypothetical of course since I don’t what epilator is being used. There are several combinations of intensity and timing that can be tried to find exactly what you can tolerate, but yet, will still destroy the hair growing tissue just fine. If the insertions are accurate and good vision equipment is being used, as well as using the biggest diameter probe possible, that helps with the comfort issue, also.

It truly sounds to me that manual thermolysis is being used, not blend. A good blend treatment on your face should be a few seconds longer. What method did she/he use this last treatment?

Shaking and sweating is NOT what you should be going through. Please open up and discuss this with her/him. I’m not totally convinced that you have a low pain threshhold – yet. I think some fine tuning on your practitioners side of things could be done to help you through this. You will give up on electrolysis if you have to go through anymore treatment sessions like you described. There are several different things that could be done to customize a treatment just for you so you could tolerate this much better.

Topicals are fine. Taking oral medication is fine. However, these medicines should be reserved for later if other non-medical strategies, employed by your practitioner, don’t help.

Intense pain is a signal to stop. Your body is trying to tell you to do something important. I don’t know how you deal with other kinds of pain, but I do know that, even the most sensitive clients can tolerate electrolysis if one trys a few different options.


I have had my whole face worked on in Blend and Flash Thermolysis and regular Thermolysis. Right now I am seeing an electrologist who uses only Flash and I find it pretty comfortable. It still hurts but it’s bearable. When I had Blend done on my face though, it was worse pain-wise. With one practitioner it was nearly unbearable, HORRIBLE. He used slow blend and it took 7-8 seconds at least on each hair. With another practitioner who used Blend it still hurt but not as bad as with him. I think part of what made it so bad with him is that I was uncomfortable with him anyway. I think your state of mind has a big effect on things. I also notice if my electrologist talks I can take my mind off things a lot better. If she’s not working on my face, we talk to each other and that helps also. Maybe in your situation the pain is just really so bad and has nothing to do with your state of mind but I noticed I was in more pain if I didn’t like the electrologist or if I was already worked up about it and nervous about how bad it would hurt and kept focusing on it. I hope you find something to help you get through the electrolysis more comfortably!

You can find some information on a type of topical anesthetic
at www.hairzapper.com
Look under the heading: Pain
The Beverly Hills Pharmacy currently compounds two types of topical anesthetics. One is cream based and the other is gel based. Order the gel based one. For increased effect, (remember this site is for us quacks, too) apply a light coat of DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide) before applying the gel. It seems that the pharmacy was at one time utilizing DMSO in their formula, but have since discontinued this.

dfahey, I think you might be right about her doing manual thermolysis,although I have to hold a metal probe which is what they do for blend. For the coarse hairs she leaves the current in for maximum 2 seconds. For the finer hairs, the current is applied for less than one second. To me, this doesn’t sound like blend because everything I’ve read on the Internet has informed me that the current applied with blend lasts way longer. I asked her if she’s using blend and she said yes but now I’m not sure if I believe her. I think next time I’ll ask her to lower the setting. As for the good and accurate vision equipment…she uses a big magnifying glass. Not sure how good that is. She has many years of experience and is always booked so I figured she would be good.
I went to another electrologist that used thermolysis before I started with my current electrologist. The thermolysis was not painful at all and she used the Apilus machine and a microscope which magnified 10X. I left there with a red,swollen chin which felt hot for about 4 hours. The next day I had white pimples and scabs on my face but the pimples went away the day after. The scabs were very noticeable and lasted a few days. I’m considering going back to the first electrologest but I feel that if my current elect. is in fact doing blend, then it might kill the hairs faster. But…I don’t want to feel like I’m being tortured b/c that is how I feel. I’m so confused as to what to do. Any input is very much appreciated.

What matters is good treatment! Modality doesn’t make one better than another. Practitioner skill is the key here.

The person who is most skillful and fastest is the best one you can work with.

t_chick, yes, you do need to talk to your electrologist about the pain issue and see if she can make some adjustments to create a treatment that will help you tolerate your sessions better. If the hair slides out easily and you can tolerate the heat, too, then that is a good sign.

Talk to her first and then if you are still not satisfied, go back to the Apilus and 10X magnification person and try another treatment,AFTER you give her feedback about the soreness, scabs and pustules you experienced the last time she treated you. No need to be confused, just communicate well until you settle in with the one you’re comfortable with.

Again, if you can tolerate the heat that is needed so the hair slides out nicely and you heal well afterwards, then you’ve got the ticket! I can’t imagine your practitioner being ungrateful for any concerns that you share with her. It’s serves both of you well if you talk and work together on this.



I probably take more tylenol 3’s than I am supposed to, but they can help somewhat.

You could put on Emla and plastic wrap, but get there earlier for your appointment and wait. I sit in my car while I wait for mine to work. I had some stuff specially compounded once which was stronger than Emla, but was not as readily absorbed, so kind of useless.

Another product available in the Toronto area is Maxilene which is a slightly different formula than Emla.

Emla costs about 45 dollars a tube Canadian. Canadian Eh!

I am going for hours 75 and 76 of electrolysis this week, plus a Lightsheer laser on the hands and wrists. That is a new area for me.


I have an appointment tomorrow(Friday) and I’ll apply EMLA to the area. I might only be able to put it on for a half hour before my appointment though. If it’s still painful I’ll go to the first place and request a different electrologist(if they’ll let me) or just find a different place altogether. I was wondering, do newer machines like the Apilus make the pain more tolerable than the older machines? My current electrologist uses an older machine so maybe that’s why I feel so much pain. One of the reasons I’m staying with this person is because I have absolutely no reactions on my skin after my appt. and I can go about my normal activities. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t treat too many hairs too close together but rather scatters the treatment in an area.
Another thing, when I went to the first person who did thermolysis, I heard a lot of zapping. She said it was from the moisture in my skin but I don’t think it should zap that much.
I’ve read on the forum ppl saying not to pick an electrologist b/c it’s hurts less than another but I think I’ll have no choice if I continue to feel this same kind of pain.
Thanks again for all the replies.