Can You Get Promethazine Over the Counter?

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
6th March 2022

In 30 seconds

Promethazine hydrochloride is a type of drowsy antihistamine that is commonly used to help people with sleeping problems. You can get promethazine over the counter and by prescription, usually with the brand name Phenergan. The drug can be highly effective in helping you get a good night’s sleep. It can help to treat motion sickness and cold symptoms like a runny nose too.

Getting Sleep Medication Without a Prescription

If you struggle to sleep, it’s good to know that you can get sleep medication fast. While there are many drugs out there that can help you sleep, many are only available on prescription.

That’s not the case with promethazine. This drowsy antihistamine can be sold over the counter and online without a prescription, to help solve your sleep troubles without delay.

Here’s what you need to know about getting promethazine over the counter.

What is Promethazine?

Promethazine, or Phenergan, its common brand name, is one of the most popular and effective sleep aids on the market. It helps many people of all ages treat their insomnia or difficulties getting to sleep.

Technically, promethazine is part of a class of drugs known as phenothiazines, a type of drowsy antihistamine. You might be familiar with this term already, as it is the name of the medicine used to treat allergic reactions such as hives and hay fever. 

Histamine is a chemical released into the brain when you have an allergic reaction. Yet it also plays a different role. Studies show that histamine has an important impact on the sleep-wake cycle. While the hormone melatonin makes you want to go to sleep, histamine wakes you up.

As an antihistamine, promethazine blocks the effect of this chemical. As a result, it reduces the feelings of vigilance, alertness, and wakefulness that might be stopping you getting the sleep you need. Thanks to promethazine, you’ll feel relaxed, drowsy, and ready for bed.

It’s highly effective. Studies have consistently shown that promethazine improves sleep quality, increases sleep time, and reduces the chance of your waking up during the night.

Can You Get Promethazine Over the Counter?

In the UK, you can get promethazine over the counter. That means that you do not need to have a prescription to buy it.

Promethazine is commonly found alongside other active ingredients such as paracetamol in the popular cold and cough medicine, Night Nurse. However, you can also buy it as a standalone medicine, as Phenergan, Avomine, or Sominex.

You can get over-the-counter promethazine in a tablet or liquid in the following dosages:

  • 10mg tablets
  • 25mg tablets
  • 20mg/ml solution (such as Night Nurse).

If you are taking promethazine for the first time, it is recommended that you try the smaller dose – and read the leaflet that comes in the packet before you take it.

Note. Promethazine is also available as a prescription medication. It is prescribed by the NHS for other health conditions, including motion sickness and travel sickness, vertigo, hay fever and hives, nausea, and cold symptoms. If you are prescribed promethazine, follow your doctor’s medical advice and take it the way they recommend.

How to Take Promethazine

If you have bought promethazine over the counter, make sure that you take it properly:

  • When taking promethazine for sleep, take it about 20 to 30 minutes before going to bed. If you do not feel the effects, do not take another dose.
  • Don’t chew the tablets, as this can affect the size of the dosage. Instead, swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water.
  • Don’t take more than the recommended dose. If you miss a dose, never take an extra dose to make up for it.
  • Avoid alcohol when taking promethazine. This can increase the chance of side effects.
  • Don’t drive if you have taken promethazine. 

What are the Side Effects of Promethazine?

The side effects of promethazine are quite rare. However, as with all medicines, they can happen. The most common side effects include:

  • Daytime tiredness
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Older people who take promethazine show a specific set of side effects, including:

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty urinating

Serious side effects of promethazine are more uncommon, but they can include:

  • Allergic reactions, which can cause breathing problems, heart palpitations, and skin rashes.
  • Jaundice. This is the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. It’s caused by problems in the liver.
  • Frequent bruising or uncontrolled bleeding.
  • Stiffness and uncontrollable facial movements.

If you experience any of these more serious side effects, talk to a healthcare professional immediately.

Who Should Not Buy Promethazine Over the Counter?

Promethazine is not for everyone. If any of the following applies to you, while you can buy promethazine over the counter, it is important not to take it without discussing it with your doctor first:

  • You have glaucoma
  • You sometimes struggle to urinate
  • You are at risk of seizures from conditions such as epilepsy
  • You are taking medication including:
    • Antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as phenelzine
    • Opioids, such as codeine
    • Medications that give you a dry mouth, difficulty urinating, or drowsiness. These are all side effects that promethazine will exacerbate.

Key Takeaways

In the UK, it is easy to buy promethazine over the counter. It is usually sold under the brand name Phenergan. At Manual, you can buy promethazine quickly, discreetly, and hassle-free online. Learn more here.


What is the Purpose of Promethazine?

Promethazine can be used for many different purposes. Most commonly, it is used to tackle insomnia and difficulty falling asleep. However, it can also be used as a medicine to treat allergic reactions, motion sickness, and the symptoms of colds.

Can You Buy Promethazine at a Pharmacy?

You can buy promethazine at a pharmacy in different forms – as a tablet or a liquid solution. You will also be able to find some forms of the medicine in supermarkets.

By the way, you can buy promethazine at online pharmacies such as Manual. We make buying promethazine easy, discreet, and hassle-free.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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