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Last Updated on February 28, 2023

How To Use Anbesol

Doctor giving an Anbesol to girl patient

Anbesol is an everyday medicine familiar to people who suffer from mouth and gum problems and to people who have care of a teething infant. As with all medicines, care needs to be taken in its use.

In this document, we outline the properties of Anbesol, the uses it can be put to, and the precautions that need to be taken when using it.

What is Anbesol?

Anbesol is a liquid pain relief medication available over the counter and can be bought without a prescription. It is commonly available in pharmacies and in stores licensed to sell medical products.

Commonly used to relieve teething pain in infants and pain caused by mouth ulcers and the wearing of dentures in older people, it is part of the range of medicines that can be used for everyday illnesses.

What is Anbesol used for?

Anbesol is a local anesthetic used to dull the pain caused by teething in infants and a range of mouth sores and ulcers in adults. It is most commonly used when other pain-relief methods have failed to ease the pain brought on by difficult teething in infants. Older patients use it to deal with mouth infections, and young adults use it to ease the pain brought on by the arrival of their wisdom teeth.

How to apply Anbesol

Anbesol is applied to the affected mouth and gum area.

Treating an adult

  1. With a clean fingertip on the bottle nozzle, invert the bottle collecting a drop of the fluid onto your fingertip.
  2. Return the bottle to an upright position.
  3. With your fingertip, smear the liquid onto the affected area of the adult’s mouth.
  4. Repeat the operation once.
  5. If soreness continues, treat the patient once again after a 3hr period.
  6. If the treatment fails to dull the pain, it is advisable to seek a doctor’s advice.

Treating an infant

  1. As with treating an adult apply your fingertip to the inverted bottle and smear the liquid onto the affected area of the infant’s gums. Repeat the action.
  2. Repeat the action again over regular three-hour periods.
  3. Do not use the solution more than six times in a 24 hour period.
  4. The lotion should not be used for more than seven days in any teething period.
  5. When using the product on an infant, exercise caution. Do not exceed the stated dose or extend usage beyond seven days.
  6. Get medical advice if the infant’s symptoms do not improve.

How does Anbesol work?

The active ingredients in Anbesol liquid are lidocaine hydrochloride, chlorocresol, and cetylpyridinium chloride. Lidocaine Hydrochloride works on numbing the sensation of pain, while Cholocresol and Cetylpyridinium treat the bacteria that give rise to infection. By eliminating infections, these two ingredients reduce the risk of recurring infections and enable the patient to live free of the pain that comes with sores and lesions or the wearing of dentures.

Can everyone use Anbesol?

As with all medications, whether prescribed or otherwise, it is essential to get the advice of a doctor or pharmacist before commencing a course of treatment.

Certain categories of patient are advised to be particularly careful when using Anbesol.

  • The product is not recommended for infants under five months of age.
  • Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy are advised to exercise caution and consult a medical professional before using Anbesol.
  • Breastfeeding women should be aware that some of the ingredients, while not dangerous, can pass into breast milk and are advised to consult a doctor if concerned about this.
  • Patients with open sores and lesions in the oral area may also suffer irritation if using the product.

Other contraindications

  • People who are allergic to chlorocresol and azo dyes Amaranth (E123) and sunset yellow (E110) may suffer allergic reactions and are advised to contact a doctor should this happen.
  • Patients using other products containing lidocaine are strongly advised not to use Anbesol.
  • Patients suffering from porphyria, a medical condition affecting the bowels and bladder, should not use the product.
  • People allergic to lidocaine, hydrochloric chlorocresol, and other properties contained in anesthetics are advised to exercise caution when using Anbesol.

Medicines that cannot be used when using Anbesol

Medical professionals advise against taking Anbesol in conjunction with other medicines. People wishing to use Anbesol can be advised not to avail of it if taking any of the following:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Drugs administered for irregular heartbeats
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-fungal treatments
  • Pain-relief medicines

Precautions to take when using Anbesol

The product must not be used for longer than the amount of time stated on the patient information leaflet, for example, seven days in the case of a teething infant. Using it for longer than this amount of time can result in the active ingredients being absorbed into the body giving rise to side effects, including convulsions.

Open sores and lesions in the lining of the mouth can also allow absorption to occur again, causing side effects. If using Anbesol for longer than seven days without a significant improvement in symptoms, the patient is advised to consult a doctor. Likewise, if symptoms recur after a course of Anbesol, the patient is advised to consult a doctor.

Possible side effects

Some users of Anbesol may experience side effects. These are usually caused by an allergic reaction and can come in the form of breathing difficulties and skin rashes. If concerned, consult a doctor or your local A&E unit. If a patient accidentally swallows the liquid or uses more than the recommended dose, stop administering it to them immediately and contact a doctor.

Storing the product

When not in use, the product must be stored safely.

It must be:

  • Kept out of the reach of children
  • Kept out of direct sunlight
  • Stored in temperatures no higher than 25 degrees Celsius

Pay attention to:

  • The expiry date on the bottle. Ensure you remove out-of-date medicines from your medicine storage area
  • Safe disposal of the empty bottle. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you on the safe disposal of empty medicine containers.

Using medicine safely

  • Use Anbesol with the care you would apply to all medicines.
  • Read the packaging and directions for use carefully.
  • Never exceed the stated dosage.
  • In the case of exceeding the dosage limit or use of the product by people for whom it was not intended, seek medical help immediately.


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