TikTok Users Say Spraying Your Feet with Lidocaine Makes Wearing High Heels Comfortable — But Is It Safe?

Here's what a podiatrist has to say about the hack.

Woman Putting On Black High Heels

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Shoe lovers might enjoy slipping into a pair of heels to dress up an outfit for a fancy event or evening out with friends. However, standing or walking in high heels for hours on end comes with the possibility of pain. (Psst: This Is What Happens to Your Feet When You Basically Never Wear Shoes)

Unsurprisingly, there's a TikTok hack floating around that seemingly illustrates how to eliminate the discomfort that comes from wearing high heels. For instance, TikTok user @ChristyClips reveals that the "secret" to wearing heels for more than six hours is Aspercreme pain relief spray, a product that includes 4 percent Lidocaine (a topical anesthetic). She sprays it all over her feet before wearing heels to eliminate pain. The clip has since gone viral, racking up nearly 19 million views to date, and it has prompted others to give the hack a whirl as well.

Now, if you're wondering how a spray designed to relieve muscle and joint pain can help make your favorite stilettos feel less torturous, allow a podiatrist to explain. Keep reading to find out if the TikTok hack really works and whether or not it's safe to try before your next big night out.

What Is Lidocaine spray?

Lidocaine is a topical anesthetic. It causes skin and surrounding tissues to lose feeling and is used to prevent pain from some procedures and treat minor scrapes, burns, and insect bites, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

You can find the medication in spray form at pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens under brand names including Aspercreme, Alocane, and Lidocaine. OTC versions are meant for external use only, offering muscle and joint pain relief with no odor. Most provide a few hours of relief and contain four percent lidocaine, according to their respective labels.

Does using Lidocaine spray for foot pain relief work?

"Lidocaine spray is a local anesthetic that works by causing temporary numbness/loss of feeling in the skin," says Hillary Brenner, D.P.M., a podiatrist based in New York and New Jersey. "It helps ease pain by simply numbing the pain receptors in the foot."

As many TikTokers note in videos shared on the app, the spray seems to offer relief from pain caused by wearing high heels. Simply put, without the feeling in your feet, there's no immediate pain while wearing uncomfortable shoes. One creator on the platform even notes that Lidocaine spray made their feet "instantly go numb," allowing them to experience a pain-free outing in heels.

Is using Lidocaine spray for foot pain relief safe?

"There is a reason we have pain receptors in our feet," says Brenner. Using Lidocaine spray and in turn ignoring those signals can potentially lead to minor issues, such as blisters; it may also cause you to "miss signs of developing stress fractures," she says.

ICYDK, stress fractures are tiny cracks in weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot that can be brought about from improper footwear (shoes that are too stiff or too flimsy). Disregarding the pain receptors in the feet can also increase your chances of developing corns and calluses, which are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure, explains Brenner.

This TikTok trend is especially dangerous for folks with diabetes or other conditions that cause neuropathy (aka nerve damage). "Diabetics are prone to loss of sensation, especially in their feet," says Brenner. "They can step on a nail and not even feel it," she explains. "By using a topical spray to increase the numbness, they can get a blister that can lead to an open wound and not even know it because their feet are numb."

Aside from these wince-inducing problems, "you can have side effects from the spray itself such as an allergic reaction, skin rash, and in more severe cases and depending upon your medical history, you can develop breathing problems, chills, fevers, etc.," adds Brenner. If you use a Lidocaine spray and experience sensations such as redness, irritation, or symptoms that persist for more than seven days or clear up and then return, you should stop immediately and consult a doctor.

You can use Lidocaine spray to make wearing heels more comfortable: True or false?

Woman Putting On Black High Heels

If it sounds a little bit scary to hear TikTokers note that their feet "instantly go numb" upon applying the spray, that's exactly why you probably don't want to try this trick for yourself. "I'm not a fan of using this product to ease the pain when wearing heels," explains Brenner. While the spray might provide temporary relief from pain caused by wearing high heels, this TikTok hack comes with safety concerns that make it a bad idea for most people, according to the podiatrist.

So, does this mean you need to simply suffer through the pain of wearing heels? Brenner says there are plenty of ways to ensure you're buying shoes that fit properly — a key factor in determining how comfortable your feet will feel if you wear them out into the real world.

Since feet tend to naturally expand and/or swell as the day goes on due to normal activities, such as walking or standing for extended periods of time, go shoe shopping toward the end of the day, so your feet are true to size, she suggests. You can also measure the length (from the back/central part of the heel to the longest toe) and width (by wrapping a tape measure around the widest part of your bare foot) to ensure a proper fit, she says.

Also, certain types of heels will naturally be more comfortable than others. Your best bet for comfort is a shoe with a heel height under two inches and a square or round toe box, which won't squeeze the toes as much as a pointy toe shape can, according to Brenner. "Try for a wider, chunkier heel with arch support and cushion throughout the shoe," she adds.

That said, sometimes a special occasion simply calls for those extra-high heels you love — even if they don't love you back. "If you don't want to follow the rules at all and go for the sky-high heel, make sure to only wear that shoe in moderation," says Brenner. Sit down as much as possible and avoid standing for more than a half-hour at a time. You'll also be better off standing on a soft surface such as carpet, rather than hard floors. Finally, you can invest in custom orthotics and non-medicated moleskin pads or foot petals to place inside an uncomfortable pair of shoes to protect toes and joints.

If you do end up in pain despite your best efforts, here's how to relieve foot pain the next day.

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