Is TikTok's Lidocaine Hack For Wearing Heels Actually Safe?

There's an old, patriarchal saying that has long been used to explain away the daunting lengths that some women will go to in order to achieve a certain ideal of beauty. You may have heard it uttered from hungry women cutting weight on modeling competition shows, or in period pieces in which a young woman is being tightly woven into an organ-squeezing corset by a family member who hopes she will catch the eye of a wealthy suitor. Heck! You may even remember your mom uttering the words after the first time you saw her get her eyebrows waxed at the salon. "Beauty is pain" is a mantra many people tell themselves as they willingly suffer in the name of achieving a certain look. And few places is the phrase more fitting than in the conversation surrounding high-heeled shoes.

While high-heeled shoes — and the bad mama-jamas who wear them — are irrefutably fabulous, there's no denying that they can take a toll on your tootsies. Banner Health explains that wearing high heels can contribute to the incidence of stress fractures in the feet; tendon, ligament, and nerve damage; plantar fasciitis; arthritis; and toe deformities like hammertoes, bunions, calluses, and corns — just to name a few. They can also be just downright uncomfortable to wear.

Some modern women, however — like TikTok user @ChristyClips — have seemingly found a way to beat the system by taking the pain out of high-heel wearing with the use of lidocaine spray.

What is lidocaine and how is it being used by high heel wearers?

Lidocaine spray is a type of local anesthetic that causes numbness in the applied area (per It works by prohibiting sodium ions from finding their way to the membranes surrounding the nerve endings in your skin. Without these sodium ions, the nerves are unable to initiate or conduct the impulses that allow you to feel pain. While lidocaine is often used in a clinical setting during certain medical procedures, lidocaine spray is also sold over-the-counter and can be used in the treatment of sore muscles, and minor burns, cuts, or rashes. And now, apparently, as a way to numb your feet against the pain of high-heeled shoes!

In the ten-second video that has garnered over 19 million views, TikTok user @Christyclips films herself spraying lidocaine all over her feet — a hack she says is her secret to wearing high heels for more than 6 hours. Since her video went viral, many others have tried it out and touted its success. One user even boasted that it made their feet "instantly go numb," making for a much more comfortable night out. But is using lidocaine to avoid foot pain while wearing high heels safe?

Why lidocaine shouldn't be used to numb feet

Lidocaine sprays can certainly be used to treat foot pain. In fact, there are some lidocaine-containing products specifically designed for feet. However, New York-based podiatrist Hillary Brenner explains to Shape that using lidocaine spray to numb the feet in order to wear high heels without feeling pain may not be a good idea. She explains that pain serves a purpose — to alert us when something is wrong. When the pain is numbed and, therefore, easily ignored, we may be missing signs of a more serious issue — like the development of stress fractures caused by high-heeled shoes.

What's more, Brenner explains that the TikTok trend could have even more dangerous implications for people with conditions that cause nerve damage, like diabetes. Because many diabetics experience symptoms of neuropathy in their feet, they may already be experiencing decreased sensation. The use of lidocaine can exacerbate this issue, making it more difficult to tell when the foot has sustained an injury or wound.

The Cleveland Clinic also suggests that using lidocaine spray has the potential to come with adverse side effects like itching, irritation, rash, and swelling of the affected area, as well as more serious side effects like difficulty breathing, headache, changes in vision, chills, and fever.