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Don’t Swallow Benadryl® Itch Stopping Gel: Use on Skin

The FDA has received reports of serious side effects – such as unconsciousness, hallucinations, and confusion – in people who mistakenly swallowed Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel. Swallowing an over-the-counter medication meant to be rubbed on the skin can have harmful effects, warns the FDA.

Although there are other over-the-counter liquid Benadryl products intended to be swallowed, Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel is not one of them. It is a topical product meant for use only on the skin. Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel is safe and effective when used on the skin as directed. People who swallow it can receive dangerously large amounts of the active ingredient, diphenhydramine.

To prevent accidental ingestion, store products for the skin separately from products that should be swallowed. Read the “Drug Facts” box on the product’s label to identify active ingredients, directions for use, and warnings before using any over-the-counter drug product. Check with a healthcare professional, such as your doctor or pharmacist, if you are not sure which over-the-counter product is right for you.

Many pharmacies and grocery stores sell other diphenhydramine topical gels that look very similar in packaging to Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel. Consumers should not swallow these products either. Swallowing them can also result in serious side effects.


This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, 2010.