Emla Uses

Vaccinations don’t have to be painful

A woman with an Emla patch

There are all sorts of reasons why you may be concerned about vaccinations – but experiencing needle pain can be one worry you can overcome with the help of Emla numbing cream or patch.

Vaccinations, injections and needles

While vaccinations are necessary to help promote health against infectious diseases, vaccine injections can often be painful, and the fear or concerns of pain can be intimidating for some people.

Many medications, including vaccines, can be administered by injections – and different types of injections may be required, including:

  • Into a muscle (intramuscular injections): This is how most vaccines are given, usually into the upper arm, thigh or hip muscles
  • Under the skin (subcutaneous injections) – this type of injection goes into the fatty tissue that sits between your skin and muscle
  • Into a vein (intravenous injections) – these use veins that are close to the skin’s surface such as on the back of your hand

Apart from vaccinations, needles are also used in other medical procedures such as when blood samples are required for testing or when an intravenous drip (or cannula) is needed.

Helping to take the pain out of vaccinations with Emla


For some people, vaccinations can cause pain, anxiety and fear – and an unpleasant needle experience, particularly as a child, can lead to needle-phobia and the avoidance of much needed healthcare.

Although vaccinations are considered one of the most common painful needle procedures – there are things you (and your doctor or nurse) can do to help reduce the pain and help soothe your needle fears.

If you do have ‘a fear of needles’ it’s important to talk to your doctor so they can take extra care and precautions when needle procedures are needed.

One thing you can do to help make it less painful is apply Emla numbing cream or patch – available from pharmacies without a prescription – to the area of skin where the vaccination is going to occur.

How Emla works

Emla products contain a mixture of two local anaesthetics – lidocaine (lignocaine) and prilocaine.

A local anaesthetic helps prevent pain by temporarily blocking nerve signals to your brain and it does this in just the localised area of the body where it’s applied – as opposed to a general anaesthetic where you lose all sensation and consciousness.

When you use Emla on your skin it makes only that particular area of skin feel numb for a short time – but you may still have feelings of pressure and touch.

Learn more about how to apply Emla cream or patch to numb the skin before your vaccination.

Think ahead when using Emla

Emla needs adequate time to numb the skin, so it’s important to factor this in and leave yourself enough time to apply your Emla cream or patch ahead of your vaccination appointment.

Things to plan for when using Emla:

Emla usually needs to be applied for a minimum of 1 hour before your vaccination
Emla is only needed at the site of injection
Be sure to read the instructions
included in the box to determine how much Emla is needed and do not exceed this amount
If you are not sure exactly where on your body the vaccination is going to be –
ask your nurse, doctor or pharmacist first
Check to see if you are having more than one vaccination – you may need to apply Emla to more than one area of skin

You can find out more about using Emla in the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet or by talking to your doctor or pharmacist.