What is Atarax?

Atarax is an antihistamine that reduces the natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose.

Atarax is used to treat anxiety and tension, to relieve the skin symptoms of allergies such as hives and contact dermatitis, and to treat itching.

Atarax may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information

Use Atarax exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Do not take more of this medication than is prescribed for you. An overdose of hydroxyzine can be fatal.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, vomiting, pinpoint pupils, cold and clammy skin, muscle weakness, fainting, and seizure (convulsions).

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can increase some of the side effects of Atarax.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects: seizures (convulsions); yellowing of your skin or eyes; jaundice (yellowing of the skin); or fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash.

Less serious side effects may include: drowsiness, dizziness; tired feeling; dry mouth; or loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

How should I take Atarax?

Take Atarax exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

To treat itching, Atarax is usually taken four times daily. To treat anxiety or tension, Atarax is usually taken three or four times daily. Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water. Do not take it with juice or soda. Hydroxyzine can be taken with or without food, but take it the same way each time.

Shake the oral suspension (liquid) before you measure a dose. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using hydroxyzine. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Do not take Atarax for longer than 4 months unless your doctor has told you to.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood may need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.


Hydroxyzine is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and its bioavailability is about 70%. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and has sedative and anxiolytic effects. Its half-life is between 6.5 and 20 hours (mean: 11.4 hours).


Research on hydroxyzine’s effects in people is limited. However, in vitro and animal studies have shown that hydroxyzine has antispasmodic, sedative, antihistamine, cough suppressant, and local anesthetic effects. It also has been shown to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine.

Atarax may be habit forming. Never share Atarax with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. It is not known whether Atarax will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Hydroxyzine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Atarax.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medicine.

Do not give this medication to a child without the advice of a doctor. Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially drowsiness and weight loss.