Benadryl + Zantac for Rash

Amy, a 26 year old woman, came into the pharmacy a few days ago.  She had a red, itchy rash on her arms and belly since yesterday.  She also had two little girls with her grabbing her arms and demanding their mama’s attention NOW! 


When we were in pharmacy school, we were taught to spend 15 to 20 minutes asking questions to clarify the issue, explaining the options, reviewing side effects, etc.   However, reality is, this mom had about 2 minutes before the kids went into melt down mode!


So, in short, if a patient is having a short-term bad allergic rash (like from food, poison ivy, dust) the best way to nip it in the bud is to take…


1.     Benadryl(diphenhydramine) 25mg -1 to 2 tablets every 6 hours

2.     Zantac(ranitidine) 150mg – 1 tablet every 12 hours


If she had more time, I would also mention that Benadryl can make her drowsy but works faster than Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) and that she could use Pepcid (famotidine) instead of Zantac. If she was still itchy after a couple of days, I would tell her to ask her healthcare provider to ask about using doxepin.


Also, that oatmeal baths(home-made or from Aveeno) will help with the itchiness.  And if she doesn’t see a big difference in 2 days or if it gets worst she should see her physician for some prescription drugs.


Oh yeah, if she really wanted to stick around, I would also explain that we have two different histamines in our bodies –H1 and H2- that can cause the rash.  Usually Benadryl (works on H1) is enough but sometimes we need to add Zantac (work on H2).  


But in truth, she said she would just take my word for it.  She did call back today (I could hear the girls in the background) and said the Benadryl made her very drowsy but that the rash was gone!   

Any questions/comments/stories of your own?  I would love to hear from you -leave a comment or email me at


  1. Thank you for your post. My husband has had a rash ever since his shingles vaccine. He is now running a fever and this has been going on for 4 weeks. Phone call to doc and he said zantac and benedryl and that really confused me til i talked to the pharmacy. Your post is the only one i found regarding this matter. Husband has also done a round of Medrol, that cleared it up but it came back again.

  2. Hi Cheryl,

    Thank you for leaving a comment! Sometimes, it can take a couple of rounds of Medrol, Zantac and Benedryl -frustrating but true. How did the addition of Zantac and Benedryl help?

    Take care,

    Nova Simpson, Pharm.D.

  3. My mother has been having Chronic Urticaria for years, no doctors can help her it get really bad and then for a while she is perfectly fine- Recently I heard that taking Benadryl with Zantac can help- she is going to try this- do you have any other suggestions for her.

    Thank you,

  4. My dr just prescribe zantac for itchie arms. I do not have a reash but both of my arms itch so bad that it wakes me up every night and I have to Keek an ice pack with me at all times. The ice is the only thing that’s stops the pain the itch. I hope this works because I am getting tired of not sleeping.

  5. I have a very bad rash, back , arms and top of legs. Went to er and to a walk in clinic,Ho gave me creams. Neither worked. At night it is burning so bad you would think I had put the iron on my body. Awake most of the night. I will try this and pray it helps. Thank you

  6. I have taken Zantac for acid reflux for about a week. Three days ago I started to itch. Yesterday there is a rash all over my whole body, not really visible for the most part, but you can feel it on my skin. You can see it on my face and ears. It is the over the counter version. My doctor will not be available for a few days. What can I do to calm this rash. It’s keeping me from sleeping.

  7. Hi Jacqueline,

    Thank you for dropping by! Is Zantac a new drug for you? Is there any other medication that is new in your life or have you had food allergies before? If you think this may be related to the Zantac, you can stop taking it for a few days until you are able to see your physician. It is possible to develop hives in your throat, which can cause swelling and issues breathing -be very aware if you develop any breathing issues -this would be a sign to go to the ER.

    Some things you can do to help most rashes: take OTC Benadryl (or generic) as directed on box (this may cause drowsiness), take luke warm to cool showers/baths (do not take warm/hot showers -this can aggravate rashes), drink plenty of water, put cold compresses on rash, try not to sweat/get too hot and meditate/relax as much as possible.

    I hope this helps and you feel much better soon!

    Nova Simpson,Pharm.D.

  8. My sister told me to take Zantac and Zyrtec after I mentioned I had a dermatitis that continued to pop up in a new spot daily. I had been using cortisone cream with little improvement and hydroxizine at night per the doctor. He wanted to give me prednisone, but I said ” no way”! I wonder why he didn’t suggest the Zantac with Atarax or Benadryl? It worked so much better. Now he gets paid and my sister who is not in the medical field gave me the better advice! Furthermore, he was a dermatologist! It’s a pity.

  9. I have been doing a herbal treatments with vitamins for a cancer protocol have gotten a healing crisis with a rash on my chest it has moved to my neck just very itchy it’s been over a month and it clears up in one spot and then breaks out in another thinking I might have to start using Benadryl and then I read something about Zanrac which would be better

  10. Thank you! My daughter has Hand-Feet-Mouth Disease (viral infection). I gave here one of my ranitidine tablets and one of my cirtirizine tablets…I recently have begun breaking out in hives and my doctor prescribed this along withMontelukast Sodium to control them and I am in heavenly relief! They only come out when I forget to take my meds. I am hoping that the allergy and skin rash pill will help give her some relief. I was worried about this combination but am thankful to find out that it is ok.

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