Header Image for Vistaril vs Benadryl

Vistaril vs Benadryl

Listen to the article instead of reading through it.




Comparative Analysis


For individuals dealing with anxiety, insomnia, and allergic reactions, certain drugs that alter the levels of compounds in the body can help manage these symptoms. Vistaril (hydroxyzine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) are two such medications often prescribed for these conditions. Both are antihistamines which work by blocking histamine - a substance produced by the body during an allergic reaction.

Vistaril has dual action as it not only works as an antihistamine but also possesses anti-anxiety and sedative properties making it useful in treating tension and anxiety disorders along with itching from allergies. On the other hand, Benadryl is primarily used as a fast-acting remedy for allergy symptoms like runny nose or sneezing but can also be used to treat motion sickness and induce sleep due to its sedating effect.

In essence, while both have similar effects they each serve different primary purposes based on their pharmacological profiles.

Vistaril vs Benadryl Side By Side

Brand NameVistarilBenadryl
ContraindicationsShould not be taken with monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Not recommended for individuals prone to addiction behaviors or those suffering from chronic insomnia without close medical supervision.Should not be taken with monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Caution advised for older adults due to concerns relating to cognitive impairment with long-term use.
CostThe price for 60 tablets of Vistaril (Hydroxyzine Pamoate, 25 mg) averages around $30 to $40. Generic options can lower the cost to about $.05/day up to roughly $.50/day.The cost for a package of Benadryl (Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride, 25 mg), containing about 24 capsules is typically between $5 and $10. Generic versions are available at approximately $.02-.03 per tablet.
Generic NameHydroxyzineDiphenhydramine
Most Serious Side EffectSigns of serious allergic reactions, disturbed vision, heart complications, low sodium levels, severe nervous system reaction.Signs of an allergic reaction, severe skin reaction, mood changes, difficulty urinating, blurred vision, fast heartbeats.
Severe Drug InteractionsMAO inhibitorsMAO inhibitors
Typical DoseOral dosages range from 25–100 mg up to four times a day. Initial dose for adults is generally 50-100 mg. Maximum daily dosage should not exceed 400 mg/day in adults and 200 mg/day in children under six years old.Treatment starts at a dosage of 25-50 mg every 4-6 hours, not to exceed more than 300 mg per day. For chronic conditions, dose can be adjusted up to 100 mg divided into four doses.

What is Vistaril?

Hydroxyzine (the generic name for Vistaril) is an antihistamine, first synthesized in the 1950s and approved by the FDA in 1956. Vistaril is primarily used to treat itching caused by allergies, anxiety and tension related to psychoneurosis, and is also used together with other medications for anesthesia. Just like Prozac, Vistaril works by affecting certain natural substances in the body to achieve its calming effect and relief of nausea. Diphenhydramine (the generic name for Benadryl), on the other hand, is also an antihistamine and is used for relieving symptoms of allergy, hay fever, and the common cold. Benadryl works by blocking the effects of the naturally occurring chemical histamine in the body. Both Vistaril and Benadryl can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness, but these side effects tend to be less severe with Vistaril, which has a more selective effect on the central nervous system.

What conditions is Vistaril approved to treat?

Vistaril is approved for the treatment of various conditions, including:

  • Management of pruritus (itching) due to allergic conditions such as chronic hives, contact dermatitis, and histamine-mediated pruritus
  • As an adjunctive therapy for anesthesia and analgesia
  • As part of the treatment of acute alcohol withdrawal, to help manage the symptoms
  • As a sedative when used as a premedication before treatment procedures or after surgery.

How does Vistaril help with these illnesses?

Vistaril (hydroxyzine) helps to manage anxiety and tension by reducing activity in the central nervous system. It does this by acting as an antagonist at certain histamine and serotonin receptors, which helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and tension. Histamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters, chemicals that act as messengers in the brain and throughout the body, that play an important role in sleep, alertness, and other cognitive functions. It is thought that individuals with anxiety may have an imbalance of these neurotransmitters. Therefore, by blocking certain histamine and serotonin receptors, Vistaril can limit the negative effects of anxiety and help patients manage their condition and stabilize their mood. This is somewhat different from Benadryl (diphenhydramine), which primarily acts as an antagonist at histamine receptors and is commonly used to treat allergy symptoms.

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl, the brand name for diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine that can be used to relieve symptoms of allergies, hay fever and the common cold. It works by blocking histamines in your body that cause allergic reactions or induce cold symptoms. Benadryl was first approved by the FDA in 1946 and has since been a reliable option for many over-the-counter needs.

Just like Vistaril (hydroxyzine), it's prescribed to manage itching due to insect bites or skin conditions; however, unlike Vistaril, Benadryl also serves as a sleep aid thanks to its sedative properties. This makes it useful not only for managing allergy symptoms but also occasional insomnia.

The side effect profile of Benadryl differs from that of drugs like Vistaril due mainly because of its prominent sedation effect which can cause drowsiness and sometimes dizziness. Other common side effects include dry mouth/nose/throat and difficulty urinating.

What conditions is Benadryl approved to treat?

Benadryl is a widely-used antihistamine that has been approved for numerous applications, such as:

  • Temporary relief of allergy symptoms including runny nose; sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; and itchy throat or nose
  • Treatment of the common cold
  • Relief from occasional sleeplessness by producing a drowsy effect

How does Benadryl help with these illnesses?

Diphenhydramine, more commonly known as Benadryl, functions primarily as an antihistamine and is widely used to alleviate symptoms of allergies and the common cold. It achieves this by blocking histamine - a chemical produced by the immune system during allergic reactions. This function allows it to effectively relieve sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching or hives.

In addition to its role in countering allergic reactions, Benadryl also exhibits significant sedative properties due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and block central nervous system histamine receptors. This makes it a popular choice for those needing help with sleep induction or experiencing motion sickness.

While Vistaril (hydroxyzine) operates on similar principles and has comparable uses including allergy symptom relief and anxiety reduction; however, patients may find that compared to Vistaril they experience greater sedation effect with Benadryl given its stronger impact on central nervous system.

How effective are both Vistaril and Benadryl?

Both hydroxyzine (Vistaril) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) have long-standing histories as antihistamines, though they are frequently used for different purposes. Hydroxyzine was initially approved by the FDA in 1956, while diphenhydramine received its approval even earlier, in 1946. As both drugs act on histamine receptors to produce their effects, they may be prescribed under a variety of circumstances.

Hydroxyzine has been directly studied for its efficacy in managing anxiety symptoms with results indicating that it can be an effective alternative to benzodiazepines. It's also shown promise in treating allergic reactions and insomnia due to its sedative properties. In terms of safety profiles, hydroxyzine is generally well-tolerated but may cause side effects such as drowsiness or dry mouth.

Diphenhydramine is commonly known for its effectiveness against allergy symptoms and has often been used over-the-counter for this purpose. However, it's also widely recognized for causing significant sleepiness which makes it useful as a sleep aid but problematic if alertness is necessary during waking hours.

A review conducted in 2014 indicates that hydroxyzine seems more potent than placebo when dealing with generalized anxiety disorder whereas data regarding the use of diphenhydramine specifically for anxiety disorders remains sparse. Nonetheless, both Vistaril and Benadryl have been proven efficient at relieving symptoms related to allergies and hives.

Even so, these medications are not typically considered first-line treatment options; other non-sedating antihistaminic options are usually tried first unless sleep-inducing side effects are desired or tolerable by the patient. Both Vistaril and Benadryl might pose some risk of dependency if taken regularly over extended periods due to their sedative properties; therefore close medical supervision is recommended especially among individuals prone to addiction behaviors or those suffering from chronic insomnia where long-term usage might become necessary.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

Find Top Clinical Trials

Choose from over 30,000 active clinical trials.

At what dose is Vistaril typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Vistaril range from 25–100 mg up to four times a day, but studies have shown that an initial dose of 50-100 mg for adults is generally adequate for treating anxiety and tension. For children under six years old, the dosage may start at 50 mg/day in divided doses. In either population, dosage can be increased after a few weeks if there isn't sufficient response. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed 400 mg/day in adults and 200 mg/day in children under six years old.

At what dose is Benadryl typically prescribed?

Typically, Benadryl treatment starts at a dosage of 25-50 mg every 4-6 hours. However, it should not exceed more than 300 mg per day. For chronic conditions like allergies or hay fever, the dose can be adjusted to up to 100 mg divided into four doses throughout the day (each spaced about six hours apart). The maximum dose is typically reached if there's no response to initial doses after an adequate trial period. As with all medications, these dosages are just guidelines - always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What are the most common side effects for Vistaril?

Common side effects of Vistaril include:

  • Drowsiness, sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Blurred vision or trouble focusing
  • Stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and constipation
  • Headache
  • Chest congestion
  • Rash

It's important to note that while some side effects are common and relatively mild, others may be more severe. If you experience any unusual symptoms while taking Vistaril, it's crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Vistaril?

While Vistaril and Benadryl are both antihistamines, they can bring about different side effects. With Vistaril, you should be aware of the following potential issues:

  • Signs of serious allergic reactions: hives; difficult breathing; swelling in your face or throat
  • Disturbed vision such as blurred sight or seeing halos around lights
  • Heart complications like fast or pounding heartbeats, chest fluttering, shortness of breath and sudden dizziness that may make you feel like fainting
  • Low sodium levels which could lead to symptoms such as headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination and feeling unsteady
  • Severe nervous system reaction where you might experience very stiff muscles (rigidity), high fever sweating confusion fast uneven heartbeats tremors and a sensation similar to passing out.

Remember that while these side effects are rare it's critical to seek immediate medical attention if any occur.

What are the most common side effects for Benadryl?

Benadryl, a commonly used antihistamine, can cause various side effects such as:

  • Dry mouth, nose and throat
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Dizziness and coordination problems
  • Increased chest congestion
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Potential palpitations or fast heartbeat in some individuals
  • Some people may experience confusion or nervousness. Additionally, skin rashes could occur.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Benadryl?

While Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is generally considered safe, it can cause certain side effects in rare cases:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • A severe skin reaction that can cause symptoms such as a red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling.
  • Mood changes such as restlessness or confusion.
  • Difficulty urinating or an enlarged prostate.
  • Blurred vision or dry eyes.
  • Fast heartbeats. In even rarer cases, there may be signs of a severe nervous system reaction including extreme drowsiness, fainting, insomnia and nightmares.

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Benadryl, stop its use immediately and seek prompt medical attention.

Contraindications for Vistaril and Benadryl?

Both Vistaril and Benadryl, like other antihistamines, may cause drowsiness or dry mouth in some people. If you notice these symptoms worsening or any new symptoms such as tremors, confusion, seizures or irregular heartbeat coming up after taking either of these medications, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Vistaril nor Benadryl should be taken if you are using monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. It's crucial to always inform your doctor about any medications you are currently on; MAOIs will require a period of about 2 weeks to clear from the system to prevent potentially harmful interactions with both Vistaril and Benadryl. This is especially important for older adults who might be more susceptible to harmful side effects.

How much do Vistaril and Benadryl cost?

For the brand-name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 60 tablets of Vistaril (Hydroxyzine Pamoate, 25 mg) averages around $30 to $40, which works out to approximately $0.50–$0.66 per day.
  • The cost for a package of Benadryl (Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride, 25 mg), containing about 24 capsules is typically between $5 and $10 depending on your location and retailer; this translates into an approximate daily cost range from $0.20 - $0.41.

Thus, if you are taking higher dosages of either medication, it is generally more affordable to opt for Benadryl over Vistaril on a per-day treatment basis when considering solely the branded versions.

However, costs significantly decrease with generic options:

  • Hydroxyzine pamoate (generic version of Vistaril) comes in packs ranging from 15 to hundreds of capsules (25mg each). Its typical cost ranges from as low as about $.05/day up to roughly $.50/day depending on dosage and quantity bought.

  • Diphenhydramine hydrochloride (generic version of Benadryl) also comes in various pack sizes starting from just a few tablets up to large quantities like those found at bulk stores or online retailers. It's available at approximately $.02-.03 per tablet translating into lower daily costs especially when considering larger upfront purchases.

Remember that while prices can impact decisions regarding medications, they should not be the determining factor in choosing what drug is right for you since effectiveness differs based on individual factors including condition being treated and potential side effects experienced by each person. Always consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist before making any changes related to medication usage or selection.

Popularity of Vistaril and Benadryl

Hydroxyzine, in generic form as well as brand names such as Vistaril, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 4 million people in the US in 2020. Hydroxyzine accounted for just over 9% of antihistamine prescriptions in the US. While it's often used for its sedating properties and can help with anxiety and nausea, it's less commonly used than some other antihistamines due to its potential side effects.

Diphenhydramine, including brand versions such as Benadryl, was prescribed to approximately 6 million people in the USA in 2020. In the US, diphenhydramine accounts for about 15% of antihistamine prescriptions and is also frequently purchased over-the-counter without a prescription due to its wide availability. The prevalence of diphenhydramine has remained steady over recent years despite concerns relating to cognitive impairment with long-term use particularly among elderly individuals.


Both Vistaril (hydroxyzine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) have a long history of use in treating symptoms of allergies, such as itching, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. They are both antihistamines and operate by blocking the effects of histamine produced during an allergic reaction. Despite their similar action mechanisms, they tend to be used under different circumstances due to their secondary attributes.

Vistaril also possesses anxiolytic properties making it useful for short-term treatment of anxiety disorders or acute states of agitation. On the other hand, Benadryl is often used as a sleep aid due to its sedative effect.

Both drugs are available in generic form which can reduce costs especially for those paying out-of-pocket. The onset time varies between individuals but usually occurs within 30 minutes after administration with peak effects seen at one to two hours post-dose.

The side effects profile is relatively similar between these two medications; common ones include drowsiness, dry mouth and dizziness. However, Vistaril may cause less confusion and fewer anticholinergic side effects than Benadryl making it more suitable for elderly patients or those with cognitive impairment.

It's crucial that users closely monitor any unusual symptoms they might experience while on either medication since serious reactions could occur though rare - seek immediate medical help if you notice difficulty breathing or swelling around the face area.