August / September #16 : Painless Punctures - by Bob Lederer

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Table of Contents

The POZ 50 Most Innovative AIDS Researchers

Attack of the Mutation Monster

A Woman of Substance

Into Africa

Above Average

Rock the Boat

Where the Heart Is

London Bridges

Roman Knows

The Way They Weren't

Now, Voyager

Chow Now

All in the Family


Touch Me, Please

Memory Serves

Never Trust a Doctor

Global Warning

Kids' Stuff

Dynamic Duo: Marlene & Margaretha Diaz

Gathering Intelligence of the Resistance

Bleach Ball

Painless Punctures

Everything in Perspective

Food Frights

Pediatric Protocol

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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August / September 1996

Painless Punctures

by Bob Lederer

Taking away the sting

"We need not put our children through needless pain," says Marlene Diaz, mother of a three-year-old HIV positive girl. Shots and blood tests are scary enough, but "what makes this ordeal even worse," she notes, "is that the children in the clinic waiting areas hear the screaming and crying of kids in the next room." Luckily, there is a solution, but Diaz says all too few pediatricians and parents know about it.

EMLA cream (manufactured by Astra USA) is a topical anesthetic that takes the pain out of blood draws, skin tests and vaccinations (except intramuscular shots). The cream is thickly applied to the site where the dreaded "stick" will be done; then the skin is covered with a gauze dressing. The numbing effect is felt about an hour later, increasing for up to three hours and persisting for one to two hours after the cream is removed. The cream may be applied immediately on entering a clinic if an hour-long wait is expected, or a prescription can be given for home application.

"This stuff works!" says Mary Jo O'Hara, a pediatric nurse at Children's Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. "Ask your health care provider so you don't leave home without it." She notes that EMLA won't interfere with any skin tests and has minimal side effects (sometimes causing pale, red or itching skin).

FDA-approved and covered by Medicaid, this treatment isn't limited to children -- adults dreading the pain of punctures can benefit too. Concludes Diaz, "When EMLA is used, the treatment room and the waiting room become a lot less stressful for everyone."

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