Compare Benadryl vs. Atarax

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Benadryl
(Diphenhydramine)

Atarax
(Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride)

Treats allergy symptoms and helps you sleep. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is great for allergies, but curl up on the couch after taking it and get ready for a nap.Relieves anxiety and itching caused by allergic reactions. Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) is an effective treatment for the itching caused by an allergic reaction. It can also help treat mild anxiety.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.5767790262172285Benadryl
Reviews for Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
85%
of people say Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is worth it
57%
say it works well
8%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride)
77%
8% vs. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
73%
+16% vs. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
9%
1% vs. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
Side effects
BenadrylAtarax

We haven’t found good data for Benadryl side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Benadryl »

We haven’t found good data for Atarax side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Atarax »
How it works
BenadrylAtarax
Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. It also makes you sleepy.Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) is an antihistamine. It treats allergy symptoms by stopping the effects of histamine in the body. It's also used to control anxiety before surgery.
Type of medication
BenadrylAtarax
Antihistamine
1st generation
Prescription or OTC
Antihistamine
1st generation
Prescription only
Available as
BenadrylAtarax
  • Pill
  • Oral solution
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
BenadrylAtarax
Risk factors for serious side effects
BenadrylAtarax
  • Using other drugs with the same ingredients
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Children age 6 years and younger
  • Enlarged prostate
  • History of bladder problems
  • Glaucoma
  • Nursing mothers
Detailed Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) risks & warnings »
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert and sleepy
  • Women of childbearing age
  • Breastfeeding
  • People 65 years or older
  • Reduced kidney function
  • Glaucoma
  • Urinary problems or enlarged prostate
Detailed Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
BenadrylAtarax
BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

See the FDA package insert
NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
  • Don't take it with alcohol or other drugs that make you sleepy.
  • Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) can be used to treat mild cases of anxiety, and for alcohol withdrawal.
  • Can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) shouldn't be mixed with other medicines that cause drowsiness like other antihistamines, pain or sleep medications or alcohol.
Food
No specific food-related info.
  • It can be taken with or without food.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
  • The dose of Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) should be reduced for people who are older or who have reduced liver or kidney function.
Sex
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
Sleep
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you tired, so take it before you go to sleep.
  • People age 65 years and older have a higher risk of side effects from taking antihistamine medications like Benadryl (Diphenhydramine). Watch for changes in vision, severe dry mouth, trouble urinating, or constipation. The drowsiness caused by Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) can make you "unsteady" on your feet, leading to a higher chance of falls.
  • Shouldn't take other medicines that cause drowsiness or dizziness.
  • Can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) shouldn't be mixed with other medicines that cause drowsiness like other antihistamines, pain or sleep medications or alcohol.
Weight
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
BenadrylAtarax
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is often better than other antihistamines at treating allergy symptoms and hives.
  • It can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • It makes you sleepy, so it'll help if your allergies are bothering you at night.
  • The effects wear off in 4 to 6 hours, so side effects don't last that long.
  • It comes as a tablet, capsule, liquid, and quick dissolving tablet.
  • Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) can be used to treat mild cases of anxiety, and for alcohol withdrawal.
  • Can be a better option for some people to treat anxiety than more addicting medications like benzodiazepines.
  • Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) is available as a liquid or as tablets.
  • It can be taken with or without food.
Downsides and risks
BenadrylAtarax
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you more tired than Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec.
  • You shouldn't drive after taking Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) until you know how it affects you.
  • Talk to a pediatrician before giving Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) to a child.
  • It can increase the risk of falls, so elderly people shouldn't use Benadryl (Diphenhydramine).
  • Don't use Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) if you are breastfeeding.
  • The dose of Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) should be reduced for people who are older or who have reduced liver or kidney function.
  • Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) can cause confusion, dry mouth, constipation, and urinary side effects. These symptoms are worse in older people.
  • As with some medicines, the tablets contain lactose. If you’re lactose intolerant, you could be sensitive to this.
  • Not recommended if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Shouldn't take other medicines that cause drowsiness or dizziness.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
BenadrylAtarax
  • Take it as needed every 4 to 6 hours.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) can make you dehydrated, so avoid this side effect by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you tired, so take it before you go to sleep.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or other drugs that make you sleepy.
  • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor. A different medication might work better for you long-term.
  • If you only have itchy or watery eyes, try using just an antihistamine eye drop.
  • Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) shouldn't be taken if you're taking other medications that slow down the nervous system, like narcotics and barbiturates.
  • Can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Atarax (Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride) shouldn't be mixed with other medicines that cause drowsiness like other antihistamines, pain or sleep medications or alcohol.
  • Side effects are more likely in older adults and young children.
  • Takes about 2 hours for full antihistamine effect if you’re taking it for itching or rash.
Learn more
More about BenadrylSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about AtaraxSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert