When to use benedryl

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I am very new to the world of being a mother of a peanut allergic child and the sight of the Epi-Pen still makes me shiver. But my question to all you parents who have had to actually administer emergency treatment to their children is... When do you administer the Benedryl and why Benedryl. Could you use a faster acting antihistamine such as Clotripolon instead???

On Feb 19, 1999

Forgive my spelling I meant to ask about CHLORTRIPILON.(hopefully this spelling is closer)

On Feb 20, 1999

Hi Trish ~

I was told that my son (4 1/2) should be given Benedryl for any accidental exposure to nut [b] or [/b] if he accidently ingested nuts. Now, according to my allergist, if the symptoms persist, you need to use the Epi Pen, Jr. You cannot predict what those symptoms will be but you will have to watch your child carefully. My allergist also stated to me last week that if he's accidently eaten something, I can give him Benedryl and take him to the ER and we can watch him there. The point is, don't be afraid to use the Epi, Pen, Jr. The research shows (according to my allergist) that the people who died from the anaphylactic reactions were those who did not use the Epi Pen, Jr. within that first hour...they waited. I was not given another name of an antihistamine so I'm not familiar with the one you noted above.

One experience I had, we were at the stadium and my son had an airborne reaction to the nuts in there (there were no visible nuts anywhere and no one was eating them near us). The allergist thinks he possibly picked up the oil off the seating as he was climbing back and forth from one row to another. Anyhow, we immediately took him to the concessions and gave him his dose of Benedryl and left right away. It took him less than 45 min to feel comfortable. He had been rubbing his eyes, face and neck. His face was starting to swell. We were lucky that he responded to the Benedryl. I too was afraid of using the Epi Pen, Jr. Now I'm feeling more confident even though I've never had to use it. I've spoken to our allergist many times on scenarios and he gives me advise. It's helpful to know how you are going to react before it even happens. Take care and thanks for posting! :-) Nicole

On Feb 20, 1999

Hi Trish,

Our son's allergist advised to always use the epi-pen Jr., and if the epi-pen is administered, go to the nearest emergency room so your child can be monitored. (We have always called Rescue so they can get him there faster). Our son has had 3 episodes where he needed his epi-pen and the first thing the emergency room attendents do is hook him up to a heart monitor, administer a medication to open his airway (even though the epi-pen was administered before transporting, and then they administer Benedryl to stop the itching. We are then given a prescription for a steriod medication to get his system back to normal - it is taken for 5 days. (And even with me standing there in the emergency room, they checked his Medic-Alert bracelet). If, God forbid, your child has to be transported or you take them there yourself, bring the used epi-pen with you. While in Rescue, they radioed to the hospital and advised the emergency room what dosage was administered. They can also dispose of the epi-pen properly at the hospital.

Nicole, you made a good point...when my son was staying at my mother's house and his eyes began watering and itching, no hives though, and we don't know what caused him to react, my mother gave him Benedryl and he responded to it very well. I, now, keep it on hand. I will also be re-addressing this with the allergist on when I can just give Benedryl?

Trish, sorry if I scared you!

[This message has been edited by Connie (edited February 20, 1999).]

On Feb 20, 1999

I find it so interesting to see the different advice everyone has been given. We were told to give our son (now 2 1/2) the Epipen the minute we know he has ingested peanuts or even if we suspect he has ingested them. We were specifically told not to wait for a reaction. His only 2 reactions(one ingestion and one airborne) both consisted of hives only. We then are supposed to give him the Benadryl, followed by prelone (steroid), and get him to the ER via ambulance. I have met many people whose kids have had much worse reactions that have been told to try the Benadryl first. I would think it was because different allergists have different opinions but some have had the same allergist as us. I intend to ask about this at our next appointment which is in two weeks. I suppose I will never know if he outgrows the allergy if I treat him before he has a reaction.

------------------ Valerie

On Feb 20, 1999

Hi all :0) benadryl is ineffective on our daughter, and with a milk allergy , we give her Atarax. It by prescription only. At daycare, they only are to administer the epi-pen. Our daughter also has a cat allergy,so when the watery eye, mild facial swelling we give her the Atarax as it works within 20 mins. I allways have both the atarax and the epi-pens where wver we go Stay safe

On Feb 21, 1999

this Benadryl thing is kind of confusing. This was my impression from the allergist. She suggested that we use Benadryl for a very minor case of hives. Now where I think some of the confusion comes in is that she suspects our daughter has other food allergies (does not want to test her at this age 3). I believe she does have other allergies too. My two other sons had milk allergies and many food allergies that have gone away or lessened in time. A lot of you write they had a reaction but no peanut in sight. Could this be that they may be experiencing another food allergy that is why the Benadryl could be effective. This is what I think my course of action will be and tell me what you think of it. If I know she has come in contact with peanuts in some manner I will use the epi-pen and ER no matter what her symptoms are. If she does develop hives with what I think has been no peanut exposure (and this happens sometimes) I give her Benadryl if she is uncomfortable. Then watch her carefullyl. I gave her Benadryl at the sight of a hive (one hive - my husband swears it was a scratch, the ever supporting husband - just kidding, but I know it was a hive.) the other day and my husband was not comfortable with that because he claims it is still a drug and is still being absorbed through her liver etc (Too much Tylenol over time can create liver problems I know). So I talked to my neighbor who is a pharmacist and she said Benadryl is a safe drug but still a drug. She said she would not use it casually but if she was uncomfortable and itchy she would not hesitate to use it. It does not cause problems for your liver like Tylenol. Anyway she explained the whole immune system thing again for me. It is confusing but if you want to hear what I remember she said read on or skip to next paragraph. She explained that when an allergen that your body reacts to as foreign it starts to produce histamines to fight this allergen. Your t-cells(?) or something in your body that has memory remember this and that is why probably each attack is worse, more cells remember. Using Benadryl (anti-histamine) stops the histamines and makes you more comfortable but it does not help that your t-cells are sensitized again. I thought by using Benadryl right away that I was stopping this sensitization process. But it just treats the symptoms. It does not avoid the autoimmune issue that is taking place. That is why it is very important to avoid the known allergens and if you suspect other allergies to stay away from those substances and you will have a better chance of outgrowing them. I hope I have not confused anyone. She explained it a lot better. Anyway I appreciate any insight you guys might have about this issue. Maybe I'll take a crash course on this someday. Patti

On Feb 21, 1999

I would use the Epi-Pen first, like Connie also stated she would do. I have heard it is very important to receive epinephrine right away and most of the people who died had a delay of over ten minutes before they were administered epinephrine. I would probably also try to give Benadryl after the Epi-Pen was administered. Benadryl may help but it is not to be relied on, and I certainly would not do only the Benadryl. If Benadryl is left as an alternative with a babysitter or someone watching a child, they may only give the Benadryl. If they have the choice between a shot and a spoon they might hope and think the benadryl will work. They, like us, do not now how bad a reaction is going to take place, so administering the Epi-Pen would always be the first thing that I think should be done. I know it is a tough decision when you are thinking of giving your child a shot, and it is scary, but I think you should always administer the Epi-Pen. Epinephrine is the only drug I have heard about that will help in an anaphlactic situation.

On Feb 21, 1999


If the thought of using an Epi-pen makes you nervous, get one of those Epi-pen trainers that the Food Allergy Network (FAN) sells for around $2 (see [url="http://www.foodallergy.org"]http://www.foodallergy.org[/url] and call their number to order). I got one and asked my nanny to practice with it -- I'll also use it to train my parents and my husband's parents. The trainer takes some of the unknown fear out of it. Also, now my nanny knows I'm serious. She told me not to worry because she will make sure my son won't eat anything with peanuts -- she's more freaked out than we are. She doesn't want to use it either, but isn't afraid of the pen now that she's tried the trainer.


On Feb 21, 1999

Hi Trish:

I remember my Mom giving me Chlortripilon when I was a kid for hayfever and other mild allergies I had. I don't what the differences are between that and Benadryl, but Benadryl definetly is the one I hear about these days, especially in moderate to severe reactions. Maybe it is stronger or has a different active ingredient, I don't know. It really does seem confusing knowing what to give and when. Even the "experts" all tell you something different. My experience has been to rely heavily on your gut instict and mother's intuition. Do whatever you feel you need to do, even if you think you may be overreacting. If you think you should call the paramedics to take him to the hospital even though his breathing has not yet been affected then do it-that's what they're there for.And don't ever feel bad about taking extra precautions! My husband didn't think it necessary for us to take our son to the hospital the last time he had a reaction, because he was only vomiting, but because he had had very serious reactions before I was taking no chances. The hospital kept him overnight for observation (I stayed too), and they had him hooked up to heart monitors etc. They didn't think I was overreacting! Also, remember that reactions can be delayed up to hours later, so it is necessary to keep a very close eye on your child. One time we gave our son Benadryl when he was vomiting after ingesting something with peanuts, and he seemed fine until about 3 hours later when all of a sudden he was struggling to breathe. I don't know if the Benadryl delayed the reaction or what, but learned then that they need to be watched very closely for hours afterward. Anyway, good luck and stayed tuned in to PeanutAllergy.Com... you'll learn alot and have lots of friends supporting you!

------------------ Colleen

On Feb 21, 1999


The reason you give epinephrine first is to open the airways. You can't swallow Benadryl if your airways are closed or closing. My husband is a former EMT and has watched someone die from a peanut allergy. The crazy guy ate a PayDay bar, knowing he was allergic and the epinephrine he gave himself wasn't enough. By the time the response team got there and broke down the door (it was locked) he was dead. It is nothing to fool with.

Also, epipen trainers are free from Dey Laboratories. Their phone number is listed somewhere on this board, but I can't remember which topic it is under. All you have to do is call and ask them to send you one.

------------------ Mary Kay

[This message has been edited by Mary Kay (edited February 21, 1999).]

On Feb 21, 1999

Hi everyone :0> When in doubt, give the epi-pen. And sen to ER. If there was not a "reaction" as such, the worst thing that will happen to your child is that he/she wil have a very fast heart rate, and be"wired" for a while . A small price to pay for a life. Take care Carol

On Feb 23, 1999

I would like to thank all of you parents who replied to my questions and took the time to share your experiences and advice. As I read each reply I am slowing beginning to realize that I am not alone in this.

Thanks again Trish

On Feb 25, 1999

I'm curious about what dosage (# of teaspoons) of benadryl everyone is giving. My doctor said I can give either 1 or 2 teaspoons (20 lb. child). So I don't know if I should give the one or two.

On Feb 26, 1999

Trish - I would recommend that you practice with an expired epi-pen on an orange. I role-played and really thought about how I would feel using the epi. My anxiety seemed to decrease after I saw how it worked with the actual needle. Also, I felt it really impressed my son's preschool teachers when I used the epi trainer first, but then had the main teacher actually use an expired pen into the orange. It made it feel and seem much more serious and I was more confident that they would do the right thing if needed. I was sure to dispose of the used needle properly.

Brenda - I have 2 teaspoons of Benadryl premeasured (my son is 40 pounds). I'd rather err on the higher dosage, because I figure some of the medicine probably won't make it into him, and this way I won't be short changing a dose. I wouldn't want to give a lower dose.


On Feb 27, 1999

Nancy ~

You make some great points here on your post. I've never had to use the Epi, Pen, Jr. on my 4 1/2 year old (Thank GOD!) but I did 'practice' on an expired pen. I think this helped with my confidence. I wasn't as smart as you and didn't practice on an orange - I used a stack of newspapers. I'm curious as to how you 'properly' dispose of the needle once you're done. Thanks. Nicole

On Feb 27, 1999

I have felt much more comfortable after using an expired pen. I used it on an apple because I heard an orange might be to soft. Any way it is a good idea to get the feel of it and to practice waiting a few seconds for the medicine to come out. I haven't had to do the real thing yet either but I am glad I practiced. I also have the epipen trainer that my kids practice with. I think my older children were starting to feel some of the pressure of this allergy too. This way they saw how easy it was to use one and it didn't hurt Katherine in any way. I think it took some of the mystery away and Katherine loved all the attention. I came home today and my son said they were playing practice with the epi-pen. I also feel that if I ever had to use one Katherine wouldn't be as afraid to have me use it. I did reinforce that this wasn't a game but that I was proud of them for caring about their sister. Patti

On Feb 27, 1999

We were told that we are to use benedryl for hives. Anything else...vomiting, dizziness,wheezing, etc., we will use the Epi-pen first. This will help to open the airway if it is swelling and to keep the blood pressure high enough so he doesn't pass out. Then give benedryl...off to the ER for further treatment. Our medics will not administer the Epi-pen unless a person is in "code blue";i.e., not breathing. All the literature I have read tells me that it will be too late at this point to administer Epi-pens. So I have advised the teachers at school to error on the side of caution. We were told that we have 30 minutes from the time of insult to administer epinephrine or 97% of the cases are fatal. That time factor is what frightens me the most.

On Feb 27, 1999

A tip I heard for a used epi-pen is to put a penny in the bottom of its plastic container and put the pen back in that, that way the needle can't accidently stick into anything. Maybe you can ask a pharmacist where you should dispose it.

On Feb 27, 1999

Hi everyone You should double check the time on the pen. We were told by two different pharmacists to have 1 pen for every 15 mins that we are away from the hospital. I have also read the time is 15-20 mins. Since the air way can close so quickly, if you really don't know then give the pen. Not everyone gets hives, especially with the air borne allergy to it. When this happened to us, we found out by accident, she had facial swelling, watery eyes, slurred speech. This all in mins.I took her outside and gave her ,her atarax. The symptoms we gone within 20 mins. She did however spend the rest of the day sleeping though. Take care

On Mar 3, 1999

I think the different responses that different allergists provide to each of us can be explained by several factors--the severity of past reactions and the doctor's sensitivity to legal issues surrounding the practice of medicine. Many doctors respond in an extremely conservative fashion (use Epi-Pen immediately even if there is no sign of respiratory difficulty and there has never been a history of respiratory difficulty) because they don't want to be held legally liable for any future allergic reactions. Without a history of an allergic response involving the collapse of the cirulatory system or the compromise of the respiratory system, some of us will never be sure what factors are helping to form the doctor's recommendations to each of us. I guess the bottom line is that it doesn't really matter if the doctors are protecting themselves first--the EpiPen is relatively safe. I just cringe at the thought of "hurting" my child with an injection if liquid Benadryl would have sufficed. I worry that if my daughter knows I will always respond with the EpiPen injection, that knowledge will make her less apt to tell me about invisible symptoms--she might want to avoid the pain of the injection, so she won't say anything. Can anyone comment on the "pain" factor of EpiPens? My daughter has only received epinephrine from a regular syringe at the hands of a medical professional, which, according to her, was painless.

On Mar 3, 1999

Hi Deb,

My son has had to have his epi-pen injection 3 times and he refers to his shot as "it makes me feel better." He has never cried when having to have it (it was me doing the crying), but without it, he could have died.

Usually with the peanut allergy, there are no "invisible" symptoms. Even if their stomach is hurting, there are usually accompanying signs, ie. watery eyes, hives, itching, and then, of course, moving up to the higher stages of vomiting, swelling, difficulty breathing. Even with the beginning stages of symptoms, they can escalate at any given moment and in my son's initial ingestion of peanut butter, the vomiting and swelling were immediate.

The "pain" these children/adults go through ingesting peanuts far outweighs the "pain" of the injection. Even when we go out, my son always says..."don't forget my epi."

I know how you are feeling and how scary all of this is but I have learned not to "under estimate" my 4 1/2 year old. Sometimes I don't give him enough credit. He's taught me a thing or two about this allergy and he is sometimes more confident than I am.

I do carry benadryl along with his pen but I rely more on the pen. I trust our son's allergist completely and he uses the term "death" when he refers to my son's peanut allergy and he doesn't use the term loosely.

I hope I have helped you in some way!

[This message has been edited by Connie (edited March 03, 1999).]

On Mar 3, 1999

Hi everyone [img]http://client.ibboards.com/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] When ever we go out i always carry both pens and the atarax. My daughter received her injection in the ER.I have never heard her say anything about pain in this regards. She does however rcall how ill she was. I do not think that the school or the daycare should have to chose between a antihistamine, or the epi-pen. I realize that it is a liability issue, but i think that in these instances it is better to err on the side of caution. I personally will not give the daycare and soon to be school that choice. Take care [img]http://client.ibboards.com/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Mar 12, 1999

Hi Trish. We have a son, 16 months old, who is peanut allergic in addition to all dairy products. We had him tested and the allergist told us he would never grow out of the peanut allergy but he has a 90% chance of outgrowing the dairy allergies. However, he also breaks out in bad facial exema (sp?) which is apparently allergy related but not necessarily to foods. One minute his face is fine, the next minute he looks like a Dick Tracy character. I was just wondering if anyone else out there has a child who has simlar conditions and what has been found to be helpful? We have tried all sorts of creams & oinments: Cortizones, Elecon, Aveeno, etc. but nothing really seems to do the trick consistently.

Lessons Learned: Also, if you (readers) have a peanut or dairy allergic child don't take chances and never go without the Epi-pen! My wife & I accidentially did last Christmas, and we almost paid the ultimate price. We had just put him on a new Soy formula (Carnation) on the advise of his Dr. Being unfamiliar with the packaging, I accidentially bought the milked base product instead (mistake #1). That night I prepared the bottles and we went to some friends' home for a party. Well, at around 8:00 p.m. we gave him his bottle and...well you can imagine the reaction. We were at a loss. What had he gotten into? Peanuts on the table perhaps (although back then we had no idea he was peanut allergic--mistake #2). The ride back home--about 20 minutes--was the toughest of our life. I let my wife drive because I did not want her to see him in his condition. The closest hospital was probably 30 minutes away but you never knew with traffic. So we made a decision to race home (mistake #3? that was a tough call to make) to administer some Benadryl (back then we knew nothing of the Epi-pen) and to call 911 immediately (yes we had a cellualr phone but it was uncharged--mistake #4). On the way home he repeatedly passed out to the extent I had to shake him to revive him. Once home we gave him the dose and within minutes he was better, and we took him to emergency immediately thereafter (mistake #5: we should have called 911). That episode was the beginning of a greater understanding of this very serious condition and the end of any future mistakes.


On Mar 13, 1999

Stan, Your pediatrician and/or allergist should be able to prescribe a medication for the eczema. The over the counter lotions you are trying aren't enough. (My dtr. had a very mild case of eczema on her legs and was prescribed a 0.2% hydrocortisone cream, it cleared up in about a week.) The prescription medications will only take care of the symptoms, you need to find out what's triggering it. He must have an allergy to something such as dustmites, cats, or another food for example. If this were the case, environmental controls will help alot. Your allergist should help you with identifing and controlling this. Check out these websites [url="http://drgreene.com/960301.html"]http://drgreene.com/960301.html[/url] [url="http://drgreene.com/960205a.html

On Mar 14, 1999

hi stan, My son had terrible eczema since the day he was born. Every doctor told me that this was an infant condition. He would grow out of it. He had post nasal drip that kept us up at night because he would be choking most of the night. When he reached his first birthday he was licked on the face and neck by a dog and he welted any where the saliva had touched. We took this as a clue that he had allergies to dogs. We started to eliminate this allergin from his life(we cleaned our duct work because the people who owned the house before had alot of dogs.) His rash decreased but, was still there. By 15 months we realized that he was also allergic to peanuts so that's when i started reading labels and sure enough alot of things he was eating had peanuts/or may contain peanuts. So, then we notice his rash was getting even better except for summer time which then he would get huge sores on his feet from scratching so much. So finally we were refered to an allergist(with alot of pushing because our doctor doesn't believe in testing before three) and we found out he had a grass pollen allergy along with cats, dustmites and of course the peanut allergy. Since then with diligent monitoring he has been eczema free since. He wears shoes(no sandals) in the summer and we stay away from any one with pets. So after this lengthy Dick Tracy investigation our son can enjoy life itch free. (by the way his first word was itchy.) I hope this gives you some hope that with alot of investigative searching you will eventually get the eczema under control and save money on all the creams that are stacked up in the cupboard. Good Luck and Stay Safe [img]http://client.ibboards.com/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]Carolyn

On Mar 15, 1999

Brenda & Carolyn, thanks for the info and advise. As for clues, we have no pets and the ezxema does not seem to be correlated to any specific foods given that he may or may not break out under static conditions. But it's got to be something...


On Mar 16, 1999

Hi Stan, what an experience! This must have been horrifying! Thanks for telling us about it. We had a similar experience with eczema when Charles was a wee guy...this too shall pass...we Hope! What kind of doctor are you seeing? I was given prescriptions for every cortisone preparation under the sun by the dermatologist. She used to see us at least once a week at that time. This was before Charles had ever reacted to anything. When he had his first allergic reaction I saw a pediatric immunologist with him who found he was mildly allergic to several things...wheat seemed to be the one that caused his aczema. When we cut it out of his diet along with a few other things everything improved. Another big help was laundry soap went to Ivory Snow Liquid...it does not leave behind a powder residue (especially important for bedding. Bedding was changed once a week. Atarax was especially helpful in this situation. It is a SLOW release antihistamine meaning it would last through the night. It was prescribed for bed time to be used on the worst eczema days. This stopped Charles from scratching and further injuring damaged sensitive skin. There is also a non-prescription cream that I use still called Glaxo Base. Where I live it can be purchased at the dispencery in local pharmacy because it is the base for many cream medications. I buy a huge jar for about 28 Canadian Dollars (it is available on the store shelf in a tiny tube for 10). A company called Roberts Pharmaceuticals makes it. We used to slather it on after bath time all over (sparingly around face, not near eyes). Please ask your doctor about some of these things.

[This message has been edited by Coco (edited March 19, 1999).]

On Mar 18, 1999

Hi Stan. Our son also has excema. We took him to an allergist after our peanut scare and found that he is also allergic to soybean, which is in just about everything it seems! I think the soybean is what is causing his flare-ups. We use Eucerin Light, Curel, and Vaseline (after baths). We avoid lotions with lanolin because he also has a wool allergy and the lanolin seems to aggravate the excema. Good Luck in finding the offender(s)- gosh-seems like it could be anything or everything!

On Mar 19, 1999

Well, since you are talking about eczema.... I have had eczema all of my life and it is totally unrelated to any food or contact allergies - it is mainly from grasses but I also always have trouble if I am sick with anything else. Anyway, a good suggestion is to put baking soda in the bath - it soothes the itching. I also use glaxo base - it is one of the most neutral. I even have my other creams (like 1% hydrocortisone) mixed up specially with glaxo instead of using one of the already prepared creams. Some other points to consider - maybe avoid soaps - they dry out the skin and often cause eczema - elbow grease is often just as good. If you need to use soap make sure you rinse with clean water really well. Another point - excessive application of cortisone creams can sometimes break down the skin - that's why you usually use a weaker cream for sensitive skin like the face and a stronger cream for other areas like the body. When you are really itchy, ice cold water is excellent - if you can get your child to let you run the area under cold water (for hands, for example) or apply cold water cloths to face or eyes it can really help stop the itch. benadryl is one of the only antihistamines that works for itch - unless you go up to prescribed drugs like Atarax. For an adult, however, I have found the new drug Reactine to be excellent for eczema and non - drowsy - but expensive!

good luck

by the way, I don't want to be discouraging, but neither my sister nor I "grew out" of our eczema....

[This message has been edited by DebO (edited March 19, 1999).]

On Mar 22, 1999

If your child has constant eczema, maybe he is allergic to something like corn. Just like soy, it is in everything. Many products contain corn syrup, cornstarch, corn flour, dextrose, etc. Benadryl, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, antibiotics, and many other drugs contain corn. Nearly every food on the market contains some form of corn.

My son was having a constant problem with asthma. We couldn't seem to pinpoint what was causing the problem. We had him allergy tested to find out he was allergic to corn, peanuts, dry beans, cats, and the usual dust and tree pollen. No wonder he couldn't breathe.

My allergist has never mentioned using an epi-pen. I ask the doctor at the local medical clinic about it, but she said that since his reaction to peanuts was not that severe that I really did not need an epi-pen. After reading everyone else's comments on this bulletin board, I believe I should have asked his allergist. Last time my son had peanut butter, it took three weeks to get his asthma back under control. That may not be severe to her, but it probably was to my 3 year old.

I will be calling my allergist tomorrow. I don't think my son should live another day without an epipen.

Thanks to all,


On May 19, 1999

This may sound like a very silly question...but is very dry skin excema? After Brady's peanut reaction (hives) she has had horribly dry skin. I put lotion on her and she looks good for about 5 minutes!! Thanks..Tammy