Compare Claritin vs. Benadryl

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

Claritin
(Loratadine)

Benadryl
(Diphenhydramine)

Treats allergy symptoms. Claritin (Loratadine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that doesn't make you feel sleepy.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.
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Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5Claritin
Reviews for Claritin (Loratadine)
74%
of people (All ages) say Claritin (Loratadine) is worth it
38%
say it works well
6%
say it's a big hassle
1514 reviews
Have you used Claritin (Loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
85%
+11% vs. Claritin (Loratadine)
57%
+19% vs. Claritin (Loratadine)
8%
2% vs. Claritin (Loratadine)
267 reviews
Have you used Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
ClaritinBenadryl

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

FDA side effect reports for Claritin »

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

FDA side effect reports for Benadryl »
How it works
ClaritinBenadryl
Claritin (Loratadine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. Antihistamines can also make you sleepy, but Loratadine is a low-drowsiness version.Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. It also makes you sleepy.
Type of medication
ClaritinBenadryl
Antihistamine
2nd generation
Prescription or OTC
Antihistamine
1st generation
Prescription or OTC
Available as
ClaritinBenadryl
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Orally disintegrating tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Oral solution
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
Used for (click to learn more)
ClaritinBenadryl
Risk factors for serious side effects
ClaritinBenadryl
    • Age 65 or older
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
    • History of phenylketonuria (PKU)
    Detailed Claritin (Loratadine) risks & warnings »
    • 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 »
    Pregnancy

    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.

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

    Alcohol
    ClaritinBenadryl
    No alcohol related info.
    • Don't take it with alcohol or other drugs that make you sleepy.
    Food
    ClaritinBenadryl
    • Claritin (Loratadine) contains aspartame (phenylalanine). People who have phenylketonuria (PKU) can't break down the amino acid phenylalanine. It builds up and causes serious medical problems. If you have PKU, don't use this product.
    No food related info.
    Sleep
    ClaritinBenadryl
    • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
    • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you more tired than Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec.
    • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you tired, so take it before you go to sleep.
    Upsides and benefits
    ClaritinBenadryl
    • Relieves allergy symptoms like sneezing and runny nose just as well as other antihistamines, but with less sedation (drowsiness).
    • Also treats hives and itchy skin.
    • Side effects are rare and usually mild.
    • Available over the counter without a prescription.
    • Comes as a tablet, liquid, or quick-dissolving tablet.
    • Can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
    • Okay to take with most other medications because it doesn't have many interactions.
    • 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.
    Downsides and risks
    ClaritinBenadryl
    • For some people, its effectiveness on treating allergies wears off over time.
    • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines (like Zyrtec or Benadryl) are more effective for them.
    • If you have daily allergy symptoms, a prescription nasal steroid spray might be better for you long-term.
    • Not for kids under 2 years.
    • The Reditabs version contains aspartame (phenylalanine).
    • 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.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    ClaritinBenadryl
    • Take it only once a day.
    • Starts working in a few hours.
    • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
    • Avoid possible side effects by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated liquids.
    • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor about trying a nasal steroid instead, which might work better for you long-term.
    • Using an antihistamine eye drop might work better to help itchy or watery eyes.
    • 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.
    Learn more
    More about ClaritinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    Have you used Claritin (Loratadine)?
    Worth itNot sureNot worth it
    More about BenadrylSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    Have you used Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)?
    Worth itNot sureNot worth it