Nontoxic benzocaine strip eases oral burn pain

A dissolvable oral strip has been developed to immediately relieve pain from burns caused by ingestion of hot foods and liquids, such as coffee, pizza, and soup.

The research was presented last week at the 2012 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) annual meeting in Chicago.

Lead researcher Jason McConville, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin, designed the strip for controlled delivery of a local anesthetic, benzocaine, and a therapeutic polymer. Benzocaine was chosen as for its nonirritating properties, the researchers noted in an AAPS press release.

The strip is applied directly to the burned part of the tongue, cheek, or roof of the mouth. It sticks to the affected area and won't interfere with normal day-to-day activities, as it quickly dissolves for instant pain relief and promotes healing, according to McConville.

"We found these strips to be nontoxic, which has huge potential for anyone who burns their mouth while eating and drinking hot foods," he said. "The strips look and behave similar to breath-freshening strips."

Now based at the University of New Mexico, McConville and colleagues will explore creating a stronger oral strip to treat more severe burns lasting longer than two to three days. The next step in furthering their research will be to test the strips in humans and experiment with taste-masking.

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