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EMLA is a topical anaesthetic cream. It is used to prevent pain during minor skin procedures, and it is also prescribed off-label for premature ejaculation.

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

26 April 2022
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 26 April 2022
Product information

EMLA Cream is a topical solution used to provide dermal anaesthesia, and is manufactured by AstraZeneca. It contains a combination of two anaesthetising agents called prilocaine and lidocaine, and works to desensitize an area of skin prior to an injection or vaccination. This cream is also sometimes used off-label prior to minor cosmetic procedures involving the skin such as cryotherapy, an ear piercing or a tattoo. EMLA is only available to buy in the UK with a prescription.

EMLA is also sometimes prescribed off-label for use in premature ejaculation.

Topical anaesthesia

For those who are planning to undergo a routine skin procedure involving the insertion of a needle, such as a vaccination or blood test; or who are due to undergo a cosmetic skin procedure, such as a laser hair removal or tattoo removal, off-label topical anaesthesia can help to numb the skin and prevent feelings of pain.

The active ingredients in EMLA are lidocaine and prilocaine, which are types of anaesthetics. They work by temporarily preventing sodium from occupying the nerve endings where pain is being felt. It is this reaction which usually causes a pain signal to transmit along the nerve to the brain. By blocking this process, the agents in EMLA cause the area to become numb, and no or little pain is felt.

In most cases, the cream is applied to a skin then covered for the desired time underneath a dressing. This will usually range for between two and five hours, depending on the purpose of use. Your doctor or pharmacist will advise you how long to leave it on for.

Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation (PE) is not an easy condition to give a definitive description of, as sexual appetites vary from couple to couple. It is generally not described as being present just because the male partner climaxes before the female partner does. The best way to exemplify PE is as a condition where the male partner, on a consistent basis, experiences ejaculation within one to two minutes of sexual penetration commencing.

There are a number of possible contributing factors when it comes to premature ejaculation, and the condition is typically categorised into two distinct types: primary PE and secondary PE.

The primary type is also referred to as ‘lifelong’ premature ejaculation. This is when the man experiencing the condition has done so persistently throughout their sexually active life.

Causes of primary premature ejaculation are mostly psychological. Some believe this might be what doctors refer to as ‘conditioning’, whereby the person experiencing the problem may have taught themselves to ejaculate quickly from an early age. Or a person’s upbringing might have influenced their attitude to sex.

Secondary premature ejaculation is when symptoms develop during adult life, after a history of otherwise normal ejaculatory function.

This might be the result of an undiagnosed condition, such as prostate disease or an overactive thyroid. But it may also be the result of stress, or sexual anxiety. In newer relationships, nervousness or an eagerness to perform can cause the male partner to be more susceptible to premature ejaculation.

There are some self help techniques which can help to reduce the likelihood of premature ejaculation occurring. Applying a thick condom to the penis, for instance, can help reduce sensitivity. Having sex with your partner on top can also help, as they will be able to pull away when you’re close to ejaculation. Taking short breaks during sex can help too.

Certain couples techniques, such as employing the ‘squeeze’ method, can help to train a man to last longer. The squeeze technique is where the man is masturbated almost to the point of ejaculation by their partner, at which point masturbation stops, then the head of the penis is lightly squeezed by the partner for 20 seconds, before masturbation commences again 30 seconds after this. This sequence is performed several times before the man is finally allowed to ejaculate.

If these methods are not sufficient on their own, they may be more useful when applied in conjunction with treatment.

Treatments for PE typically aim to reduce sexual sensitivity in the person experiencing the condition, allowing for prolonged sexual contact. When applied to the penis, EMLA does this numbing the nerves underneath the skin.

Pain and pleasure are experienced when nerve receptors are supplied with stimulation, and the appropriate signal is then transmitted to the brain. The two functioning ingredients in EMLA, lidocaine and prilocaine, interrupt this process by stopping these signals at the site of application, thus allowing the user more control over when they ejaculate.

What is in EMLA?

Made by AstraZeneca, EMLA is an acronym of Eutectic Mixture of Local Anaesthetics. There are two local anaesthetics in the treatment: prilocaine and lidocaine. When EMLA is used before a minor surgical procedure involving the skin, these agents provide numbness at the applied site, and prevent feelings of pain.

Renewing your prescription for EMLA online with our UK-based pharmacy is easy. Just take our medical questionnaire, and one of our qualified physicians will review your case. Once approved, your order will be dispensed and shipped to your home via secure courier. All orders are shipped by next-day delivery, so that you can expect to receive your treatment within one working day.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022


When using EMLA, it is important to observe the application instructions supplied with the medicine. Doing so will help to maximise its efficacy and narrow the likelihood of side effects.

When used in topical anaesthesia:

  1. Use as directed.
  2. Your prescriber will provide detailed instructions on quantities to use.
  3. Typically, 1.5 to 2 grams of cream will be used to cover an area of skin 10 square cm in size.
  4. One single gram dose of EMLA is roughly the same size as a one pence coin.
  5. A dressing is usually applied over the top of the area, and the cream is left to work for 1-5 hours. this can vary depending on the purpose of use.
  6. Never use more than the amount prescribed.
  7. If you need further assistance, ask your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

More detailed instructions can be found in the accompanying leaflet.

When used in premature ejaculation:

Use of EMLA in premature ejaculation is off-label. As such, there are no guidelines from the manufacturer for its use in PE. However, recommendations have been made by other healthcare bodies.

For further instructions on the use of EMLA in PE, please refer to the leaflet provided to you by us following approval.

In addition, you will also need to refer to the manufacturer’s leaflet for further information on EMLA and its use.

Download EMLA Cream patient information leaflet

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Emla Cream 5g

Emla Cream 30g

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

It is important to stop using the cream and notify a doctor immediately if you develop any serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic response may include: a rash; breathlessness; a drop in blood pressure resulting in feeling faint or dizzy; swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body; or bluish-grey skin.

Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Redness, slight swelling, or pale skin where the cream was used.

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):
Mild burning or itching sensation when the cream is put on the skin, or tingling.

Rare (1 in 1000 people or less):

Small red dots on the skin where the cream is applied.

The above is only a summary of the side effects associated with this item. For a more detailed list, please consult the leaflet provided.


Taking it with other medicines

Inform your prescriber during consultation if you are using any other medications, as they may interfere with the function of this product or vice versa. This particularly applies to: sulphonamides such as sulfamethoxazole; other local anaesthetics; or treatments for an irregular heartbeat, such as mexiletine or amiodarone.

Conditions to look out for

It may not be suitable for those who have or have ever had: glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency; heart disease; anaemia; methaemoglobinaemia; or atopic dermatitis.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

New or expectant mothers should consult with their doctor prior to use, as special application may be required.

Driving and machinery

The correct use of EMLA should not influence your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Emla Cream 5g

Emla Cream 30g


Can I still drink alcohol?

It is not advisable to drink alcohol before or during application. ful application.

Will I still be able to drive?

If you have used the cream in an area which may affect your ability to drive, you should refrain from driving until the effects of the cream have worn off.

Can I use this medicine while pregnant?

It is important to discuss the use of any medication, including this one, with your doctor prior to use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How should I store it?

Keep it in a safe place below 30°C, and out of the reach of children.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

This item contains the following ingredients: lidocaine, prilocaine, polyoxyethylene hydrogenated castor oil, carbomer 974P, sodium hydroxide and purified water.

It is not suitable for use by anyone who is allergic to any of the above.

Is it available over-the-counter?

To buy EMLA Cream online from our pharmacy, you will first need to fill in our doctor-reviewed questionnaire, as this product is prescription only.

Is it right for me?

If you haven’t used EMLA before, see your GP for advice. They will be able to give you some guidance on how to apply EMLA if you’re using it for the first time for dermal anaesthesia.

If you’re experiencing premature ejaculation, your GP will be able to initiate a course of treatment if necessary.

Getting your prescription for EMLA renewed online is simple with our secure service. All cases are checked by a registered doctor, who will only approve your medication if they believe it is safe. Prescriptions are prepared at our UK-based pharmacy and shipped to you by next-day tracked courier.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
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