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July 1956

Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride as a Local Anesthetic Agent

Author Affiliations

Covina, Calif.; Los Angeles

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Southern California, Maximilian E. Obermayer, Director; and the Section of Dermatology, Los Angeles County General Hospital, Maximilian E. Obermayer and Maxwell J. Wolff, Co-chairmen.

AMA Arch Derm. 1956;74(1):76-79. doi:10.1001/archderm.1956.01550070078015


Minor surgical procedures are occasionally necessary for patients who have either a known sensitivity to procaine or who obtain little or no anesthesia from it. It was felt that a substitute drug of a different chemical structure would be of definite value. One of the physiologic properties of the antihistamines is that of local anesthesia.1 It was therefore decided to proceed with a clinical investigation of one of them, diphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl) as a local anesthetic.

Review of the Literature

Rosenthal and Minard2 noticed in 1939 that thymoxyethyldiethylamine produced local anesthesia to the same extent as but of longer duration than 1% procaine (Novocaine) when injected intracutaneously or applied locally to the denuded skin in 0.5% concentration. Burchell and Varco3 noted that blebs produced in the human skin by the intracutaneous injection of either thymoxyethyldiethylamine or N′ethyl-N′-diethylaminoethylaniline were anesthetic only over