Benadryl is a medication that is used for a variety of different purposes, depending on the particular product. It can be used to treat insomnia, sneezing and runny nose due to the common cold, allergy symptoms, and other conditions. Healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend off-label uses for Benadryl (for the prescription form of the medication), such as for treating morning sickness, coughing, and autism.
What Is Benadryl Used For?
Benadryl® (diphenhydramine hydrochloride) is an antihistamine that is used for a variety of different purposes. The approved uses may vary, depending on the particular product, and there are also a number of "off-label" uses for Benadryl. Approved uses include the treatment of the following conditions:
- Allergy symptoms due to hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies (oral products only)
- Sneezing and runny nose due to the common cold (oral products only)
- Skin itching and pain due to a variety of different causes (for the products applied to the skin only)
- Allergic reactions, such as food allergies (prescription products only)
- Dermatographism, a severe form of hives (prescription products only)
- Motion sickness (prescription products only)
- Parkinson's disease (prescription products only)
- Insomnia (prescription products or other non-prescription diphenhydramine products only).
There are not necessarily any important differences between the non-prescription and the prescription products, except the prescription products are available in a higher strength (50 mg) and also in injectable form. The non-prescription Benadryl products are not labeled appropriately for the prescription-only uses (such as for insomnia or motion sickness). To make matters even more confusing, there are several other non-prescription diphenhydramine products (but not Benadryl) that are approved for insomnia and are available in the 50 mg strength.
There are also a number of Benadryl combination products (such as Benadryl-D) approved for treating common cold and allergy symptoms.