Many people (especially in the summer) get bee-stings, mosquito bites, and other insect stings. Benadryl seems like a quick and easy solution, but here are some things your pharmacist might not think to mention.
Benadryl is a brand name for diphenhydramine, an antihistamine.
Doctors recommend Benadryl and other diphenhydramine products to treat the symptoms of allergy or hay fever such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and itching in your nose or throat.
You can also take Benadryl when you have these same symptoms because of a common cold.
Under other brand names, people sometimes take diphenhydramine to treat motion sickness and as a sleep aid.
This over-the-counter (OTC) medication blocks the actions of histamine, a naturally occurring substance in the body that causes allergy symptoms.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved diphenhydramine under the brand name Benadryl for the McNeil drug company in 1946.
McNeil Consumer Healthcare still markets Benadryl, but generic diphenhydramine is also sold under many other brand names, and is a common ingredient in many combination cold and allergy products.
Benadryl comes in gelcaps, tablets, and liquid form.
There’s also a topical form of diphenhydramine that goes directly on your skin. These creams, gels and sprays ease itching from insect bites, bee stings, sunburn, poison ivy, poison oak, and other skin irritations.
Additionally, a 2013 study published in the journal Pharmacology also suggested that diphenhydramine ointment may help ease bone, joint, or muscle pain from osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
You can buy Benadryl without a doctor’s prescription, but there are some safety issues you should know about before taking it:
Benadryl can cause drowsiness — it’s also sold as a sleep aid under different brand names — but you should not use Benadryl to make a child sleepy because it can have the opposite effect in a child and act like a stimulant.
If you combine Benadryl with other antihistamines, including antihistamines you rub on your skin, drowsiness can be worse.
Drinking alcohol and taking Benadryl together can also increase drowsiness.
If you’re older than 65, ask your doctor about other, safer alternatives to Benadryl.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking Benadryl and other diphenhydramine products if you have any of these conditions:
- Chronic bronchitis or other lung problems
- Eye problems
- Difficulty passing urine
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Overactive thyroid
There are also side effects even if you have none of the conditions mentioned above.
Common side effects include:
- Dry mouth.
- Dry nose and throat.
- Feeling jittery (especially in children)
- Tightness in the chest.
So maybe we could go with a safer alternative. Apple cider vinegar applied to a mosquito bite stops itching. Something as simple as toothpaste relieves bee-sting pain. Ice packs are harmless. Garlic cloves, calendula, and even peanut butter have been known to help.