What Does Benadryl Do: Can It Be Used For Anxiety Treatment?

Last Updated: July 16, 2020

Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Benadryl is an OTC medication and can be obtained without a medical prescription. It is classified as an antihistamine, which means the primary purpose of this medicine is to treat allergies in people. Also, active ingredients in diphenhydramine (DPH) formulations make them a drug of choice for patients with various health conditions. What does Benadryl do? Knowing the answer to this question is vital for the successful treatment process. Another essential information for a patient is Benadryl precautions. Being aware of them help to choose safer Benadryl alternative and not to fall under its side effects.

What Is Benadryl Used For?

Benadryl For Anxiety

Some people use diphenhydramine to help them cope with anxiety symptoms. Benadryl is known for making a person feel sleepy and drowsy. This particular effect can help a patient temporarily feel a reduction in their anxiety symptoms.

Benadryl For Hives

A topical ointment containing diphenhydramine is often used to treat hives. The medication is considered effective in reducing these symptoms. Some people may also utilize a capsule to provide an increase in the effectiveness and address the allergies that are causing hives.

Benadryl For Allergic Reaction

An acute allergic reaction can be treated with diphenhydramine capsules, but it should be noted that the medication is usually not advised for the treatment of a more serious allergic reaction. In such a case, intravenous or intramuscular administration of diphenhydramine may be required.
 allergic rash dermatitis eczema skin of patient

Benadryl For Sleep

The long-term side effects of Benadryl should also be taken into account when the medication is used daily to help treat problems like sleeping difficulties. While diphenhydramine drowsiness and similar side-effects are usually not considered as severe, the longer term effects may be more damaging.

Benadryl For Itching

Does Benadryl help with itching? This symptom is often caused by an allergic reaction and can be effectively treated in such a case with the use of diphenhydramine topical solution. The topical cream needs to be applied directly to the area where the itching occurs on the skin.

Benadryl For Cough

DPH has been suggested for symptoms associated with cold symptoms, including a cough. The liquid form of the medication is usually advised for smaller children, but adults may achieve better results in terms of alleviating symptoms like a cough when they turn to capsules.

Benadryl For Cold

Benadryl For Migraine

While not expressly indicated for this use, some studies have found that the parenteral administration of DPH can assist in alleviating an acute migraine. The medication is used as a type of adjuvant therapy when treating a headache in patients.

Benadryl For Allergies

The most common use of diphenhydramine is to help treat allergies. The medication can effectively reduce signs of allergies and temporarily help to avoid a further occurrence of allergy-related symptoms while the drug is in the patient’s system.

Benadryl For Eczema

Eczema is considered an allergic condition, and the use of DPH topical cream can also be an effective solution for reducing the eczema symptoms.

Is The Antihistamine Benadryl Safe For Kids?

Using Benadryl for kids require particular precautions as not children of all ages are advised to be provided with this medication. Several factors have to be taken into account when it comes to using Benadryl for toddlers, babies, and even teenagers. When considering is Benadryl safe for a particular child, the first factor that will play an essential role in determining the answer would be the child’s current age.

Pediatrician examining little girl in clinic

Can One Give Benadryl For Kids Under 2?

Liquid and capsule forms of diphenhydramine are not advised to give to children who are younger than two years old. Ingredients in this medication are generally not considered safe for young individuals, except when closely monitored and prescribed by a physician.

Can Diphenhydramine Be Given To Children Under 6?

Children under the age of six may be provided with a topical cream that contains diphenhydramine. It can assist in treating itchy skin and a rash that is caused by allergies.

Can One Give Benadryl To Children Under The Age Of 12?

Children between the ages of 6 and 12 can be provided with a low diphenhydramine HCL dosage  to treat the symptoms associated with a cold. A stuffy nose and allergies can be treated in these children with the tablet or a liquid form of the medicine. Dissolvable strips are also available.

Can One Give Benadryl For Children Over The Age Of 12?

Children older than 12 can be provided with capsules, tablets, liquid, and dissolvable strips to assist in treating a variety of conditions, including allergies, insomnia, and cold symptoms. It is vitally important to ask a physician about Benadryl overdose amount when it comes to administering this drug since the children’s dosage is lower than the recommended adult dosage.

How Should Benadryl Be Used?

In some serious cases, diphenhydramine addiction symptoms may occur when a person develops either a physical or psychological dependency on the effects that the drug poses. At the same time, however, when looking at a question like how much Benadryl to sleep, it is important to take tolerance into account as well.
senior woman with glasses reading Benadyl label
The use of Benadryl for colds and allergy symptoms like a runny nose are treated with a capsule or a liquid medication. This type of medication is administered orally. Does Benadryl help with hives and rashes? Patients with these symptoms are usually able to obtain better results by rather opting for a topical solution with diphenhydramine to help reduce the allergic reaction on their skin quickly.
To treat itching, it is recommended to apply a lotion that contains the active ingredient on the affected area. This can yield faster results compared to an oral tablet or liquid.

What To Tell The Doctor Before Taking Diphenhydramine?

A physician will be able to consider diphenhydramine interactions with prescription drugs and other medications that the patient is using at the moment and provide further details to help them understand if this is the right antihistamine. It is also important to consider the following:

  • The patient needs to tell the physician if they have an existing diphenhydramine allergy.
  • If the individual has allergies to any other medication, they should note this to the physician.
  • The physician should be advised of any vitamins and herbal supplements that the person is taking, as well as nonprescription medication and other types of prescription drugs.
  • The physician also needs to be made aware of the following existing conditions: bronchitis, asthma, lung disease, glaucoma, seizures, and other illnesses that the patient has.

Benadryl Contraindications And Precautions

  • Benadryl during pregnancy is often deemed safe when used over the shorter term. Long-term use of diphenhydramine is usually not advised.
  • Interactions should be taken into account. For example, asking if one can take Zyrtec with Benadryl often brings up concerns regarding an increased risk of certain side-effects like drowsiness. The drug may also interact with anxiety medication, MAOIs, certain painkillers, and some sedative medicines.
  • People with hyperthyroidism, closed angle glaucoma, hypertension, an enlarged prostate, and those with a stenosing peptic ulcer are advised not to use DPH.

How To Take Diphenhydramine Safely?

More than a single dose of the drug should not be taken within four hours. A person should wait for at least four to six hours before taking another dose of the medication.
Senior doctor consults patient about Benadryl usage

  • Follow the dosage instructions and do not take more of the medication that what is considered appropriate.
  • Since the drug can cause sleepiness and drowsiness as side-effects, it is often advised to take the medication at night or when not participating in activities where these side-effects could pose as hazards.
  • There should be a period of four to six hours between multiple doses.
  • The medication can be taken with or without a meal.

Page Sources

  1. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01825941

Published on: June 5th, 2019

Updated on: July 16th, 2020

About Author

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He is graduated from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and health care articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers.


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