How Many Doses of Benadryl Can a Child Have if Having an Allergic Reaction to Something?

Little girl blowing his nose
Benadryl calms allergic reactions. (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, carries the brand name Benadryl. It blocks histamines, which the body manufactures during some allergic reactions. Many parents use Benadryl to control minor allergic reactions such as hives in their children. Though it may be tempting to give your child a second dose if the first one doesn't work, this is extremely risky. Never overdose your child on Benadryl. If your child is experiencing his first allergic reaction to something, no matter how minor, contact your pediatrician.

Common Allergies

Benadryl is most effective at treating minor colds, inhalation allergies and hives. Hives are a common minor allergic reaction that produce small bumps that fade and then reappear all over the body. Never assume your child has hives. Some serious allergic reactions may look like hives at first and then become more serious. Whenever your child experiences a first-time allergic reaction, it's vital to contact her doctor. Allergies can be fatal, so don't take unnecessary risks.

Other Allergies

Uncommon childhood allergies include anaphylactic reactions to bee stings, certain medications and other allergens. Benadryl does not treat anaphylactic shock, and parents should never use it in place of medical care. If your child is having trouble breathing, experiencing swelling of parts of the body or is unconscious, call an ambulance. In some allergic reaction emergencies, your doctor may recommend giving your child Benadryl on the way to the hospital.

Benadryl Dosing

Benadryl should not be given to children under 4-years-old unless a doctor has instructed otherwise. If a child is under 6-years-old, limit usage to products that only have one ingredient. Some versions of Benadryl such as long-acting doses are unsafe for children under the age of 12. If your child meets the age qualifications, you can repeat a dosage every six hours on an as-needed basis. Read the package before giving any medication to your child, and never give more than the recommended dosage unless directed to do so by your pediatrician. Because Benadryl often causes drowsiness, excessive use may lead to dependency on the drug to sleep.

Benadryl Side Effects

Before giving your child Benadryl, you must know about its side effects. The most common one is drowsiness. In fact, many people take Benadryl as a sleep aid. Avoid giving Benadryl to a child before a long bike ride, hike or sports game. She may injure herself. Benadryl also dries out the sinuses and skin. Without adequate water, it might cause dehydration, so ensure your child continues drinking water. Allergies to Benadryl are rare but can be life threatening. If your child's allergic reaction gets worse after taking the drug, she may be allergic to it. Contact your pediatrician or go to the emergency room.

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