Benedryl for Skin Itching

Fact Checked

iJiradelta/iStock/Getty Images

When you have an itchy skin rash, your doctor may tell you to reach for the Benedryl without really explaining why. In fact, Benedryl is a common ingredient in first aid kits and medicine cabinets. Keeping a tube of Benedryl cream and oral Benedryl handy could mean the difference between persistent and annoying itchy skin and a quick way to find relief.


Benedryl comes in two different forms. The first is a liquid or solid medicine that is taken orally. Benedryl has a variety of formulas that can also help combat other signs of an allergy, like itchy, watery eyes or a persistent cough. Benedryl also comes in a cream form, which contains 2 percent diphenhydramine hydrochloride to block histamines from irritating your skin. It's usually used for itch caused by an outside allergy to a topical stimulant like poison oak or ivy.


Benedryl, in both topical cream and oral form, is used when your itchy skin is the cause of an allergic reaction. Oral Benedryl is a diphenhydramine, which helps to block histamine sites from irritating your body when you have an allergic reaction which causes an itchy rash, notes the Drugs website. Topical Benedryl is an antihistamine that when spread on the skin, can help dull the nerves that make you feel itchy.


Always follow package directions when taking or using Benedryl in either form. Orally, Benedryl is available in pills, liquid and dissolving strips. If you choose to use Benedryl cream, never use it on open sores, or if you've never used Benedryl on an allergic reaction before. Glenn Kline, an allergist and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas tells Mother Nature that topical ointments could exacerbate an allergic reaction and make your itching worse.

Side Effects

When you use Benedryl to combat your itchy skin, beware of the side effects. When taken orally, Benedryl can cause drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, excitement, nervousness and muscle weakness, according to PubMed Health. That's why it's so important that you follow the dosing instructions on the packaging, only taking as much as you need to reduce your itchiness. When used topically, Benedryl cream can cause allergic reactions, so test on a small patch of skin first.


While Benedryl can help combat an annoying itchy rash, if your rash persists for several days, schedule an appointment with your doctor. You may be having a severe allergic reaction that needs to be taken care of with prescription medicine. You should also contact your doctor if you experience vision problems or trouble urinating when taking Benedryl, as it can be the sign of a more serious health condition.