Benadryl and eczema: does it work?

While there are many treatments for eczema, you might be wondering if over-the-counter (OTC) options such as Benadryl can help. Although Benadryl is useful for allergies and itchy skin due to hives or insect bites, it is not recommended for eczema and is ineffective in treating it.

But if you have trouble sleeping because of the itchiness, Benadryl may come in handy due to its sedative properties.

Talk with a doctor before using Benadryl in conjunction with your eczema treatment to make sure it’s use is proper and safe.

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is the brand name for an over-the-counter antihistamine. It is often used to relieve allergy symptoms and itchy skin caused by insect bites or hives.

Benadryl can be taken orally as a pill or liquid or applied to the skin as a cream, gel or spray. There are different formulations of Benadryl, with two allergy formulations, an anti-itch cream and a refreshing gel for the itch. All formulations except Refreshing Itchy Gel contain diphenhydramine.

Diphenhydramine acts as a reverse agonist at the H1 receptor. This means that it reduces the symptoms of allergic reactions by limiting the effects of histamine, a substance the body releases to help fight the effects of allergens.

Although it is effective against allergies, hay fever, and hives, Benadryl is less effective in treating eczema. OTC Benadryl is not approved to treat eczema. the American Academy of Dermatology recommends not using Benadryl to treat eczema, including its topical formulations. They say it could even cause allergic or contact dermatitis in some people.

A 2019 study found no consistent evidence that antihistamines were effective as an “add-on” therapy for eczema.

If you have trouble sleeping because of the itchy rash from eczema, ask a doctor if taking Benadryl is right for you. But it should not be used to treat eczema itself.

As with any medicine, even over the counter, Benadryl can cause a variety of side effects. These can range from mild to severe. Before using Benadryl, always talk to your doctor first.

Common side effects can include:

More serious side effects can include:

Call your doctor at once if you get serious side effects or feel like something is wrong after taking Benadryl.

Sometimes a pediatrician will recommend Benadryl for children with eczema. This is because eczema is irritating and keeps them awake at night. In this case, Benadryl is used to help your child sleep, not to treat his eczema. In children other side effects may occur with oral Benadryl, including:

If your child has any side effects, call your pediatrician immediately.

For more information on eczema treatment options, read this.

Eczema is a common skin condition. It is also called atopic dermatitis. Eczema can be characterized by red, itchy, inflamed patches on fair skin and dark, purple, or gray itchy skin in people with darker skin. Eczema can occur at any age, although it is often seen in babies and young children.

Although there are several types of eczema, the term generally refers to atopic dermatitis or a rash with dry, itchy skin. It is the most common type of eczema. While it’s not clear what causes eczema, it’s thought to be caused by triggering an overactive immune system, causing an overactive response. It can sometimes also be triggered by stress.

Here is more information on the types of eczema.

Symptoms of eczema affect the skin and can include:

  • inflamed, itchy, dry, rough skin
  • intense itching
  • thickened or scaly skin
  • small bumps that ooze when scratched

While there is no single test to diagnose eczema, your doctor may be able to recognize it during a routine physical exam, especially if other conditions have been ruled out.

Eczema can be very uncomfortable, but it can be treated and managed. There are many effective treatments, especially topical steroid creams. Although Benadryl is often used for itching, both orally and topically, it is not recommended or effective in the treatment of eczema.

If you are using Benadryl to help you or your child sleep because the itchiness keeps you from sleeping, ask a doctor if it is safe for you or your child. Never take more than the recommended amount and tell your doctor about any other medicines you or your child are taking.

About Terry Gongora

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