Diphenhydramine Topical Cream, Gel, or Spray

What is this medication?

DIPHENHYDRAMINE (dye fen HYE dra meen) reduces pain, itching, swelling, and rashes caused by skin conditions such as insect bites and sunburns. It works by blocking histamine in the skin, a substance released by the body during an allergic reaction. It belongs to a group of medications called antihistamines.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Banophen Anti-itch, Banophen Anti-Itch Extra Strength, Benadryl, Benadryl Itch Stopping, Benadryl Original Strength Cream, Dermarest Insect Bite, Dermarest Plus, Diphenhist with Zinc Acetate, Itch Relief

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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • Chicken pox or measles
  • An unusual or allergic reaction to diphenhydramine, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Breast-feeding

How should I use this medication?

This medication is for external use only. Do not drink or use in the mouth. Follow the directions on the package. Wash your hands before and after use. Apply to the affected area as directed on the package or by your care team. Do not use this medication more often than directed.

Talk to your care team regarding the use of this medication in children. While this medication may be used in children as young as 2 years for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

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What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, use only that dose. Do not use double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medication?

Interactions are not expected. Do not use any other skin products on the affected area without asking your care team.

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

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What should I watch for while using this medication?

Tell your care team if your symptoms do not start to get better within 7 days or if they get worse. You may have a skin infection or other more serious skin condition.

Do not use this medication on large areas of the body or with other products that contain diphenhydramine. To do so may increase the risk of side effects.

Do not get this medication in your eyes. If you do, rinse with plenty of water.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Burning, crusting, or peeling of dry skin

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Do not freeze. Protect from light. Throw away any unused medication after the expiration date. Some products may contain alcohol or have other flammable components. Do not use while smoking or near heat or flame.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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