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Uses and Side Effects of Ethyl Chloride Spray

Ethyl chloride acts a topical anesthetic that temporarily relieves the sensation of pain in the targeted area. It is commonly applied before undergoing a minor surgery to reduce the associated pain.
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Uses of ethyl chloride spray
Did You Know?
Pregnant women should use ethyl chloride only if recommended. It is not yet known whether the drug transfers from the mother to the child through breast milk. So, pregnant or nursing women should consult a doctor before using the spray.
Ethyl chloride spray is a vapocoolant (skin refrigerant), meaning, it acts as a topical skin anesthetic. Simply put, ethyl chloride is a numbing or desensitizing spray that freezes the superficial skin temporarily. So, when the drug is sprayed, the area of application develops a board-like hardness, thereby making the pain easier to ignore, when carrying out a minor surgical procedure. The various uses of this numbing spray are discussed below:

Uses

Relieves Pain Associated With Minor Surgeries

Ethyl chloride spray is applied just before undergoing any minor surgery. The numbing action of the spray helps to desensitize the site of incision. As a result, the patient feels minimal pain while the incisions and stitches are made during the surgery. Surgically removing boils or cutting open a skin to drain pus from an abscess, are minor surgical procedures that take less than a minute but can be quite painful. So, the spray is often applied before starting the procedure to numb the area and control the pain.

An Effective Pre-injection Anesthetic

Taking a subcutaneous injection, inserting a syringe to withdraw blood sample or starting intravenous (IV) fluid therapy as a part of treatment, can always be a cause of discomfort. The process of inserting the needle to administer the medication is always painful for the patient. However, you don't have to really bother about the pain, when you spray ethyl chloride before taking the injection. The spray numbs the area, which provides substantial reduction in pain during the treatment.

Relieves Minor Sports Injury Pain

The anesthetic effect of ethyl chloride is also effective to alleviate discomfort associated with minor sports injury. So, the pain associated with minor sprains, contusion, and bruises can be effectively reduced by simply spraying on the site of injury. Although the pain relief is temporary, it does help to manage the injury effectively.

Alleviates Deep Muscle Pain

The spray can be effective in treating medical conditions like lower back pain, tight hamstrings, stiff or twisted neck, and shoulder bursitis due to sprain or irritation of muscle in the affected area. Muscle aches due to spasms can also treated with this spray. As the superficial tissue freezes after applying the spray, it helps reduce spasmodic activity of muscles, in turn contributing to reduce pain and improving motion. Ethyl chloride spray may also be recommended to relieve myofascial pain, a condition in which applying pressure on sensitive points of the muscles (trigger points) causes discomfort in another part of the body. Spray and stretch technique is often used to lessen myofascial pain.

Usage

Proper usage of spray is necessary to achieve the desired purpose. By keeping a distance of 3 to 9 inches from the application area, spray the drug non-stop for 3 to 7 seconds. In case, you are using an aerosol can, spray the drug continuously for 4 to 10 seconds. As soon as the targeted area becomes white, immediately stop the spray.

For reducing deep muscle aches, while spraying, make sure that the distance between the bottle and the affected muscle is around 12 to 18 inches. Now, the entire length of the muscle including the trigger point and the painful area, is sprayed in a parallel sweeping movement at the rate of about 4 inches per second. While spraying, gradually stretch the muscles to reduce pain, and restore normal movement.

Side Effects

Some rare, side effects may be experienced, particularly if the spray is used for an extended duration of time. They are mentioned below:

Change in urine output
Yellowing of skin/eyes
Abdominal cramps
Nausea
Change in urine color
Frequent vomiting
Fatigue

Allergic Reaction

An adverse reaction from use of this spray is least likely to occur. Following are the symptoms of allergic reactions that, if observed, should be immediately brought to the notice of your health care provider:

Facial swelling
Itchy rash
Difficulty in breathing
Severe dizziness

When using the spray, persistent skin discoloration or infection also can occur at the site of application. Some may experience impaired wound healing or considerable discomfort as the skin begins to thaw. All these side effects are rare, but worrisome, hence require urgent medical attention.

Caution

Make sure that the spray does not come in contact with the eyes. Spraying into the eyes can cause irritation.
Ethyl chloride is also considered to be harmful for the kidneys and the liver. So, long term use of this spray is not recommended as it can damage these vital organs.
Experts also advise to avoid breathing the spray as it could be harmful. Headache, confusion, a feeling of drunkenness or dizziness are some of the immediate side effects of inhaling the spray.
Excessive exposure can also cause loss of voluntary coordination of muscle movements, and may even lead to unconsciousness. Excessive spraying should also be avoided as it can cause frostbite.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
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Published: May 30, 2014
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