FDA Warns Against Orajel Ingredient: What You Need to Know

fda orajel warningAre you holding a teething baby right now ... or one that may be teething soon? We've got another warning about something we all thought was safe. The FDA issued a warning about benzocaine, which is found in Orajel, Anbesol, and other over-the-counter meds used to help soothe those gums and mouths of babies cutting their first teeth.

The FDA says benzocaine may cause a rare, serious, and possibly fatal condition called methemoglobinemia, which reduces the amount of oxygen carried the bloodstream.

We have the signs of methemoglobinemia and what you should do if you have a teething baby at home.


Here is what we know:

1. The FDA is telling parents and caregivers not to use products with benzocaine on children under 2, except when under the care of a doctor.

2. If you do have to use something with the ingredient on your child, use as little as possible and no more than four times a day.

3. There have been 21 cases of methemoglobinemia in adults and children after using a product with benzocaine.

4. Don't know what to look for? Here are the signs of methemoglobinemia: pale, gray, or blue colored skin, lips, and nail beds; shortness of breath; fatigue; confusion; headache; lightheadedness; and rapid heart rate. The symptoms usually occur within minutes of applying a product with benzocaine to 1 to 2 hours after use.

5. It doesn't matter if you have used Orajel or another product with benzocaine without side effects. Methemoglobinemia can occur after using a product with benzocaine for the first time OR if you have already used it before, so this is cause for concern at any time.

6. If you think your child may have the signs of methemoglobinemia, call 911 and get medical attention immediately.

Yeah, this is scary stuff. There are ways to help your teething baby without using over-the-counter products. Gently rub his gums, massaging the tender spots often helps. What helped my kiddo the most? A plastic teething ring stashed in the fridge; the cold helped numb her sensitive mouth.

Do you have a a good, natural teething remedy?


Image via Wallula Junction/Flickr

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