Tetracaine gel for local anaesthesia

This leaflet is for parents and carers about how to use this medicine in children. Our information may differ from that provided by the manufacturers, because their information usually relates to adults. Read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

The tetracaine gel should only be used on undamaged skin. Do not put it on damaged skin.

Name of medicine

Tetracaine gel, Amethocaine gel

Brand name: Ametop

The gel contains 4% tetracaine.

Why is it important for my child to take tetracaine gel?

The gel will help reduce any pain or discomfort that your child may feel during a minor procedure, such as when blood is taken or a drip (cannula) is put in, or during a small surgical procedure such as removing a lump. If the gel is not applied, the procedure may have to be delayed or cancelled, or your child may feel pain or discomfort during the procedure.

What is tetracaine gel available as?

Tetracaine gel comes in tubes containing 1.5 g of gel.

When should I give tetracaine gel

  • The gel needs to be applied between 30 and 45 minutes before the procedure is due to be done.
  • The person giving you the gel will tell you when to apply it and where to apply it on your child’s body. They will probably ask you to apply gel to more than one place.
  • If the procedure is delayed and the effect of the gel has worn off, ask your doctor or nurse for advice before applying any more.

How much should I give?

Your doctor or nurse will tell you how much gel to apply – this is the amount that is right for your child. They may tell you to apply a whole tube of gel to each site, or part of a tube.

It is important that you follow the doctor or nurse’s instructions about how much to use.

How should I give tetracaine gel?

Applying gel on an area of skin

  • Squeeze the gel from the tube onto the area of skin to be numbed. Do not rub it in.
  • Place a waterproof dressing (plaster) over the gel to keep it in place. You will be given these with the gel.
  • Make a note of the time that you applied the gel.
  • Wash your hands properly with soap and water, as soon as you have finished applying the gel.
  • If your child has not yet had the procedure, take off the dressing 1 hour after you applied it and wipe off the gel with a tissue.

Do not apply the gel to skin that has a rash or eczema or is sore, bleeding or has a scab.

The gel must not be applied to the eyes, ears, nose, inside the mouth, or near the back passage (anus) or genitals.

When should the medicine start working?

The skin should be numb enough after about 30 minutes for blood to be taken using a needle, and after about 45 minutes if a drip is being put in.

The skin will stay numb for 4-6 hours.

What if my child is sick (vomits)?

You do not need to worry. The gel will still work if your child is sick. Do not apply any extra gel.

What if I forget to give it?

If you forget to apply the gel, or you applied it late, tell the person who is going to do the procedure. They may want to delay the procedure.

Do not apply extra gel. This will not make it work faster.

What if I give too much?

You are unlikely to cause harm if you give an extra dose of tetracaine gel by mistake. If you are concerned that you may have given too much, contact your doctor or local NHS services (details at end of leaflet). Have the medicine or packaging with you if you telephone for advice.

The tetracaine gel can be dangerous if it gets inside the body. If your child has tingling or numbness of the tongue, ringing in the ears, feels sick or is sick (vomits) or has twitching or a convulsion (fit), take your child to hospital straight away.

Are there any possible side effects?

We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they have other effects that we don’t want (side effects).

Side effects you must do something about

If blisters form on the skin after applying the gel, take the gel off with a tissue and rinse the area gently with running water. Contact your doctor or nurse for advice.

If your child develops a skin rash or swelling of the face or tongue, they may be allergic to the gel. Remove any gel, rinse the skin with water and contact your doctor straight away.

Other side-effects you need to know about

  • Some children with allergies seem to react more to tetracaine gel, if this happens ask your doctor or nurse about an alternative local anaesthetic.

  • The gel may make the skin itch. This doesn’t usually last long and should stop when the gel is removed. If your child’s skin is still itching after a day, contact your doctor.

  • There may be some redness or swelling of the skin under the gel. This should go away once the effect of the gel wears off. If it is still a problem after a day, contact your doctor. Be aware that redness and swelling may also be caused by the needle or surgical procedure.

There may sometimes be other side effects that are not listed above. If you notice anything unusual and are concerned, contact your doctor. You can report any suspected side effects to a UK safety scheme at

Can other medicines be given at the same time as tetracaine gel?

  • You can give your child medicines that contain paracetamol or ibuprofen, unless your doctor has told you not to.

If your child is taking any medicines, tell the doctor or nurse who gave you the gel. If you forget to do this, check before you apply the gel. This includes herbal or complementary medicines.

Is there anything else I need to know about this medicine?

If you think someone may have swallowed some gel, contact your doctor straight away.

Do not apply the gel anywhere inside the body (inside the mouth or in ears, eyes, genitals or back passage). It must only be used on the skin.

  • Your child’s skin may react to this gel even if they have used it before without having a reaction.
  • Do not leave the gel on the skin for more than 2 hours. Ideally it should be removed after 1 hour.
  • Only use the gel for your child. Never use it for anyone else, even if their condition appears to be the same, as this could do harm.
  • If you think someone else may have used the gel by accident, contact your doctor for advice.
  • Make sure that the gel you have at home has not reached the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date on the packaging. Give old gel to your pharmacist to dispose of.
  • Once you have opened a tube of gel, throw away any unused gel or return it to the pharmacist.

Where should I keep this medicine?

  • Keep tubes of gel in the fridge.
  • Make sure that children cannot see or reach the medicine.
  • Keep the medicine in the container it came in.

Who to contact for more information?

Your child’s doctor, pharmacist or nurse will be able to give you more information about tetracaine gel and about medicines used to numb the skin (local anaesthetics).

England: NHS 111

Tel 111

Scotland: NHS 24

Northern Ireland: NI Direct

Wales: NHS Direct

Tel 111 (free) or 0845 46 47 (2p per minute)

Copyright disclaimer

Version [2]. © NPPG, RCPCH and WellChild, all rights reserved. Review by February 2017.

The primary source for the information in this leaflet is the British National Formulary for Children. For details on any other sources used for this leaflet, please contact us through our website,

We take great care to make sure that the information in this leaflet is correct and up-to-date. However, medicines can be used in different ways for different patients. It is important that you ask the advice of your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about something. This leaflet is about the use of these medicines in the UK, and may not apply to other countries. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), WellChild and the contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information, omissions of information, or any actions that may be taken as a consequence of reading this leaflet.