What Is Diphenhydramine Cream?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2019
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Diphenhydramine cream is a topical antihistamine used primarily to treat symptoms of an allergic reaction such as pain and itching. This medication may be used in cases of insect bites, bee stings, or poison ivy. Sunburn and other forms of minor skin irritation may also be treated with diphenhydramine cream. Some of the possible side effects of this medication include thee development of a skin rash and an increased sensitivity to sunlight. Occasionally, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction may occur that causes swelling of the face and throat as well as difficulty breathing.

Topical diphenhydramine cream works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body responsible for creating allergic symptoms. This medication may be used in several allergic situations, including insect bites or bee stings. Pain, swelling, and itching caused by poisonous plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac may also be relieved by the use of this cream. Sunburn and minor skin irritation caused by other sources may respond well to the use of diphenhydramine cream. A doctor or pharmacist should be consulted with any questions about the proper use of diphenhydramine cream.


It is important to follow the directions on the package when using diphenhydramine cream unless a doctor gives separate usage instructions. This medication is normally applied to affected areas of the skin between three and four times per day. The affected areas should be thoroughly clean and dry before application, and the hands should be carefully washed after using the cream. Diphenhydramine cream is not designed to be used for medical conditions such as chicken pox or the measles.

Side effects are rare when using diphenhydramine cream, but any bothersome symptoms that develop following application should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation. Minor skin irritation such as a rash or an increased sensitivity to sunlight and heat lamps are the most commonly reported side effects associated with the use of this medication. Symptoms such as swelling of the face or throat should be treated as a medical emergency, especially if there is also difficulty breathing. These symptoms may indicate the development of a severe and potentially fatal type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. If the throat swells to the point where not enough oxygen is able to travel throughout the body, permanent brain damage or even death may occur within a matter of minutes.



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