Caution: Zyrtec Withdrawal Side Effect

May 7th, 2014 by Loretta Lanphier

Caution: Zyrtec Withdrawal Side Effect

Cetirizine (Zyrtec) is an over-the-counter antihistamine that reduces the natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose. Cetirizine is used to treat cold or allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes, or runny nose. Cetirizine is also used to treat itching and swelling caused by chronic urticaria (hives).

Many people (especially those who have been using Cetirizine for over 2-3 months) and when trying to get off Cetirizine (Zyrtec), find themselves experiencing an “abrupt Zyrtec withdrawal” side-effect of extreme itching. It’s amazing to note that this particular withdrawal side-effect of Cetirizine is not included in the medical literature. Thus many people continue taking Certirizine | Zyrtec because they believe it is supposed to help alleviate itchiness not cause it.

According to The People’s Pharmacy, they first notified the FDA about people reporting this withdrawal side-effect almost four years ago after receiving many complaints from users trying to get off of Zyrtec. However “there is still nothing in the medical literature or prescribing information about withdrawal symptoms.” And the “medical and scientific community seems equally indifferent.”

Unfortunately most doctors don’t know about this withdrawal side-effect from Zyrtec and other drugs that contain the ingredient Cetirizine. Taking your itching concern to your healthcare practitioner may get you comments like:”that’s the reason you need to keep on taking it” or “you cannot become addicted to an antihistamine.”

Know the Side Effects of Antihistamine Drugs

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness or moodiness (in some children)
  • Trouble urinating or not being able to urinate
  • Blurred vision
  • Fast, pounding or uneven heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Sleep problems
  • Weakness or tremors

Oregatrex oregano oil blend

Drug Interactions When Using Antihistamines

Tell your doctor about all the medications you may use (both prescription and nonprescription), especially: sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, medication for depression, seizure medications, narcotic pain relievers, other medications for colds/hay fever/allergies. Antihistamine use may also affect allergy testing. Do not start or stop any medicine without first checking with your healthcare practitioner.

Certainly these types of allergy drugs can be useful on a short-term basis, but they can become very problematic in the long-term.

The good news is that you can get off of cetirizine containing drugs, but it will take tapering off slowly as well as persistence and discipline.

Natural Remedies that may help one cope with the Zyrtec withdrawal side effects, primarily the itching (some are natural antihistamines)

  • Vitamin C
  • Quercetin
  • Aloe Vera (use topically and orally)
  • Natural Vitamin E (use topically and orally)
  • Hot showers (use a shower head that purifies the water)
  • Applying unrefined coconut oil to the skin
  • Wild Mediterranean Oregano Oil (use orally)
  • Butterbur (herb)
  • Drinking good amounts of purified water
  • Essential Oils (always use with a carrier oil) like Chamomile, Tea Tree, Geranium, Lavender, Eucalyptus

You can also find consumer complaints about cetirizine at

If you or a loved one have experienced this side effect from trying to get off of a product containing cetirizine, I would love to hear your experience.

Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner (Traditional), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. She has studied and performed extensive research in health science, natural hormone balancing, anti-aging techniques, nutrition, natural medicine, weight loss, herbal remedies, non-toxic cancer support and is actively involved in researching new natural health protocols and products.¬† A 14 year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta is able to relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness. Check out Oasis Advanced Wellness and our natural skin care site Oasis Serene Botanicals.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.





  • Aimee

    I have been suing Zyrtec for approx 3 years. I have a minor case of angioedema and in the very beginning, this was a miracle AH. I have found that the more I take it, the more my body builds a “resistance” to it. After going through 3 different AH’s in 5 years and multiple failed allergy tests, I’ve decided it’s time to detox my body and see where that takes me. After 3 days of no AH’s so far I’m getting terrible swelling and hives in my hands and feet, but I keep reading in forums that eventually it’ll pass. I imagine since I’ve taken it for so long and at such high doses with a breakout, it may take longer to completely detox my body. In the meantime, I plan on using Aloe Vera topically, and drinking plenty of water to help with the withdrawl side effects. Hopefully I won’t have to bear this long and I can be on my way to figuring out my allergy triggers.

  • laraine

    I have dealt with year around allergies for years. This year was the year it was all going to change for me….So I thought. I decided to start taking Zyrtec in March and stop in October, these are the months that are the worse for me. I thought I would take the winter season off…..OMG im now 5 days off my zyrtec and was not aware that I needed to taper my OTC. It has been the worse 5 days of my life…I am digging at my body with a FORK…I itch!! Someone tell me how long this withdrawal will last…Im going crazy….

  • Jennifer Barlow

    I have been on Zyrtec or a generic version for approximately 7 or 8 years. I have had episodes where I have forgotten to take my medication and then the itching began. When I realized I didn’t take it, I immediately began and the itching went away within 15 mins. As most people, I thought this was because without the medication, my allergies would flare. I have mild seasonal allergies, so if I would have really thought this through, I may not have had this thought. Well. this has happened about three or four times over the years. So I began to worry that I needed to see the allergy Doctor for a new round of allergy tests. If I itch that badly without the meds, then I must be getting worse. Oh…my…..I am in agony! Of course the Dr told me I had to stop all of my allergy meds for seven days. I am in day 4 of no Zyrtec and am going crazy. I want to scratch my palms till they bleed. My inner ear or weirdly enough, my chin, will begin and stop itching at random. And it is almost as if it is nerve related as the same spot on both of my legs will itch at the same time, on my arms, on my back. Very weird. I am also very worn out as I am having restless nights, weird dreams, and am feeling extremely nauseated. I have had a suspicion that this may be a type of withdrawal so I Google’d it yesterday and am floored at the results!!!! Shame on you Zyrtec!!! I will be interested to hear what the Dr says. I am sure he will say what many others have stated that their Dr’s said. As he is who started me on this, I am sure he will defend the meds. I am done and will no longer put this or any other synthetic medication in my body unless I have to. This is worse than the slightly runny nose and cough I developed during hay fever season!!!!

    • Martha Gore

      I too have dealt with extreme itching & nausea. The nausea is worse for me than the itching. I’m on day 13 of my detox & pray that it subsides.

      • Hi Martha,
        You suffer from nausea after stopping Zyrtec? Im too, It really a pain! Try to talk about it to my doctor or pharmacist and no one can tell why im having this problem. Im on day 8, is there anything that help nausea? Can you get back to me, I would be very happy to speak to you about this problem.

  • Julie E

    I’m beating myself up for being naive enough to believe any “drug” is safe to take for extended periods. I began taking generic zyrtec in the spring to combat hay fever. From time to time I’d think I’d be fine now, and stop taking it; only to begin itching and breaking out in hives. So I thought “my allergies must be bad still” and took it again. Now it’s been like 9 months and I’m itching whether I take it or not and my husband went online and discovered the ugly truth about Zyrtec.
    I’m now on day 4 without and the itching is so intense I can hardly stand it. I am overjoyed that we threw it all away, or I’d be tempted to take one just to make the itching stop. I have a raised rash in my armpit and hives all over my body. It’s absolutely miserable. I never imagined itching so intense, and I have 4 tattoos. Anyone whose had a tattoo know about itching.
    I’ve realized, drug companies aren’t interested in helping people. They only seem interested in making a product people will rely on and continue to buy. It’s such a shame for these companies to prey on sick people! They should be held accountable for their actions. I guess I have a few months to find a natural anti-histamine for this spring. I’ve heard local honey helps. Perhaps I’ll find some and start that now.

  • Carol Morris

    I have been trying to wean myself off of zyrtec. I don’t have any itching or rashes but have developed angioedema; not diagnosed by a physician but obvious from the symptoms sudden swelling of the lips and/or eyelid Today was the worst had top and bottom lips on one side so swollen I couldn’t speak normally, and both my eyelids were swollen. Do you know an effective way to wean from the medication. I have experienced physician’s telling me they have not heard of the zyrtec withdrawal so they disbelieve my report.

  • Andrew

    I have been on citrizine (Zyrtec ) for only ten days with only 10 tablets and I am currently in day 3 of withdrawl and I am going insane.. I am extremely angry that I have to go through this without even a simple warning before hand. I’m curious as to how long the withdrawl symptoms will last because I cannot take anymore of this itching…

  • Eve C

    Every day for the last 6 years, I had been taking an allergy medication called levocitirizine (xyzal) prescribed by my doctor to help with my asthma. This medicine contains the main ingredient in Zyrtec. It has been extremely effective, however, I noticed that on the days after I had forgotten to take the medication I would be severely itchy and would think “oh no, my allergies are really acting up!” I am now pregnant and my physician advised me not to take any more medications at this time. It’s been a week and I am in misery. The itching comes on everywhere fast and hard, and scratching only seems to make it worse. I have tried applying gold bond lotion on areas when the itching begins, but the effect is only temporary. I am wondering if anyone has come out of this “zyrtec withdrawal” and how long it may have taken for the itching to subside?

  • Bob

    I have been on Zertec, for over 6 years now, I tried to get off, for some allergy testing, and began itching with in 36 hours, It got so bad, I became short of breath. The allergy doctor told me to go back on it, and they would draw blood for the test. I have tried over 12 times now, to get off it. I will itch so bad, I scratch blood. If any one knows how to get off this crap, please let me know.


  • Krystal

    I started tapering off Zyrtec while simultaneously loading up on natural antihistamines by the brand HistaEze. So far im on day 3 and severely, maddeningly itchy. Must get off Zyrtec!

  • Alicia

    I’ve been off of Zyrtec for only 2 days after being on it for 5 years. I have been so nauseous ever since. How long does this last? I haven’t had any itchiness yet just nausea.

  • Sashia R

    I tried to stop zyrtec 3 years ago and caved after 4 days. As an actress I only wish it had been recorded as all I needed was a script about a heroin addict going through withdrawal, would have been the performance of my career! I’ve been on it for close up four years now and am hoping to get off this stuff. I was diagnosed with idiopathic dermatitis which is known at times to simply stop. my immunologist wants me to believe that my skin itches when I miss a dose because I clearly still have dermatitis. I am more convinced that my symptoms are from withdrawal, with my luck I probably haven’t had dermatitis in years but would never know it because I have become so dependent on zyrtec.

  • pam wojcik

    I’ve been on Zyrtec for many years, due to having allergies. I ran out of the medication a while ago, not sure maybe 4 or 5 weeks. Around that time (I recall the first appearance) I developed a rash/burning on the tops of my toes. LOTS of serious itching too ! Now, I’ve noticed it has spread to around the lower sides of my feet. Incredibly red, and when sunshine, or warm water hit it, it burns.
    I also had been feeling rather queezy, light headed, jittery: I attributed this to HIGH thyroid medication levels. Now, I’m sure that’s not the case.
    The dizzy, nausea, jittery has subsided, but I’ve had more frequent migraines . I am prone to them, but haven’t had them for quite some time, until the last few weeks. The itching feet/toes are very present. I was hoping it would clear up by now.
    I am comforted (in gaining insight) reading this site because I believe I now know the mystery behind my incredibly red/itchy/burning toes !

  • Stacy

    I am on day 5 of no Zyrtec (or the generic form). This is absolutely the worse itching I have ever had in my life!!! I will never take another Zyrtec again! Has anyone been able to get past this and if so, how long did it take?

  • Marl

    Try applying 91% rubbing to all areas that itch, even from base of skull to bottoms of feet if necessary. It stops the itch for several hours and will let you sleep a night and function during the day. I carry a small bottle of it in my car and purse to use whenever and wherever I need it. I use ladies rooms to apply it when I am not in the car or in the house. Walmart has the best ;price on it.

  • Laurie

    I am currently on day 4 off of Zyrtec so that I can take allergy tests. I am beyond miserable. The itching will not stop, I haven’t slept more than 4 hours in the past 3 days. The itching moves from the top of my head to my feet – random places and very intense. I am extremely anxious, upset stomach and ina unity to concentrate. My appetite goes from nothing to starving randomly throughout the day. This is beyond miserable and I don’t know if I will make it to day 7 to take my tests.

  • Laura

    I have been on Zyrtec for years…10…15? I cannot recall not being on Zyrtec now that I think about it. I have year round allergies and began allergy shots 3.5 years ago. Every time I’d see my allergy doctor he’d say I should be able to stop taking the Zyrtec, but every time I’d try my “allergies” would get out of control and I’d only last a day or two. I’ve been diligent with the shots but have considered several times to stop them because they don’t seem to be working. I ran out of Zyrtec three days ago. It starts with intense nose itching, then scalp, last night the bottoms of my feet itched so intensely I was walking around my apartment rubbing my feet on the carpet as hard as I could. Today at work I cannot concentrate because the itching is everywhere. I realized for the first time that it felt like a drug withdrawal. I decided to google and I’m completely flabbergasted by what I am reading. I can’t believe I was so stupid. People are saying how horrible their withdrawals are after taking Zyrtec for months, I’ve been on it at least a decade! I don’t see many people commenting on getting through it without horrible symptoms for months. I guess more research is in store for me. I’m definitely going to spread the word since this is the first I’ve heard of this problem. I can’t believe my allergy doctor has never brought this up to me or that many doctors are not aware of this.

  • Shayee

    I’ve had allergies all my life. I live in Nigeria. I took this drug for two weeks straight or maybe three and then I got off it and I haven’t slept a wink. I feel soo on edge. I’m constantly anxious. I thought it was a safe drug but I feel so crappy

  • Bill

    I just took another pill. I can’t stand the itching. There has to be a way to cope with the withdrawals.
    Nothing seems to work.

  • EhrimeN

    I’m currently on day three without Zyrtec and oh boy, every little part of my body is itching. I could not sleep yesterday because of the extreme itchiness. I’ll try to make it a week or 10 days if it lasts more than that I don’t know but I might go back to using it.

  • Ang

    I am on day 3 of this round of Zyrtec withdrawal. The first time, I withdrew abruptly and it was the most miserable experience that I ended up taking it again out of sheer exhaustion after a month. This time I withdrew very gradually, from 20 mg to 10. Then to 5 for two weeks, then 2.5 for 2 weeks. Then off completely. So far it has been tolerable. Mild itching and flu like symptoms, but tolerable and I think I am off it for good. Never again!

  • jaybake32

    I have been off of it for about 3 weeks, after taking it for about 4 months. The itching has actually become worse. In fact the first two weeks of being off it, I don’t recall itching at all, although I was having headaches. It seems to flare up more at night. I would have thought by now that the withdrawal would be over. Does anyone know how long it typically lasts?

  • Dhruv

    Hi, I have been taking cetirizine for almost 8 years. Last 8 years i took several thousand pills. Last couple of months i notice that these pills don’t really work for me. After few hours of taking cetirizine 10 mg, hives and itching come back and i could not sleep without cetirizine.

    Today, it is my 13th day without cetirizine and trust me these 13 days are worst in my life. From second day i have hives all over my body, it itching like crazy. I itch myself till blood come out. My tongue, face, fingers, foot all got swell up. Every morning i wake up ( if i could sleep at night) with swell feet. It takes few hours before i can walk properly.

    Now something positive, Every passing days hives and itching become lesser and lesser and i am becoming more and more confidence that i could get rid from this poison, My head become clear and i get better sleep without those vivid dream like state ( i think that cause by cetirizine). I lost lots of hair i last few years, now my hair loss got almost stop. My skin feels better and less sensetive. But most importantly, i get this internal belief that i can kick this cetirizine habit and worst days already passed. I am not scared anymore ( i used to keep few cetirizine in my wallet) and can survive without cetirizine for rest of my life.

    As i read in many forum, that it takes 4-6 weeks to get rid from most hives and itch and 7 months to 1 year for full detox/recovery.

  • Dhruve

    Hi, this is my 14th day without zyrtec. I wake up this morning at 5 am after almost 5/6 hours sleep and gladly discover that first time in 2 weeks my foot is not swell up. It almost normal and no pain and eatching.

    I sill have hives and red sports all over my body but they are less itchy and painfull. But most importantly, i am having a better mode and laughing a lot. My skin and hair look healthy. My girlfriend was saying i snore less at night.

    Hopefully i can kick out this poisonous drag forever and update you guys about my condition.

  • Dhruve

    16th day without zyrtec. Still have lots of hives but have less itching and inflammation.

  • M

    I was only on an anti histamine containing cetirizine for a few months. I tried it because I suffer from a nasty reaction insect bites when in the garden and I thought the tablets might help. I don’t have problems with pollen or dust.
    I came off them at the end of the summer and have suffered with itching just like everyone else on this forum. Pharmacists have no idea what I’m talking about and even say it’s not possible to have this reaction. I can’t go ‘cold turkey’ because it’s just too awful.
    Over the counter anti histamine tablets come with either citirizine or laratadine, so I’ve started to take the ones with laratadine, they stop the itch whilst your body rids itself of the cetirizine. Well that’s the plan anyway. I’m taking a tablet every three days or so,I just hope that there is no reaction to the laratadine. It’s got to be worth a try because we appear to be on our own with this problem. I’ll report on how it goes.

  • M

    Regarding my last post I’m sorry I spelled Loratadine with an ‘a’.

    • M

      I think I’m getting there now. I’ve been taking an over the counter anti histamine with Loratadine each time the itching has kicked in. I found that I could go a couple of days longer each time between tablets. Now it’s been 12 days since I took the last one and although I’m getting itchy areas with hives forming I can deal with them.
      I only took Cetirizine for 3 or 4 months but I have suffered terribly since stopping them. No-one seems to know about this problem. I’ve been told that I must have an allergen and that is what has caused the problem, not the tablets. I really find that hard to believe because I only took them to make my insect bites less troublesome, and there aren’t any insects now the summer has gone.
      I guess we are all different but my solution seems to be working for me. Just in case it helps anyone else, I have found that if I get a bad patch of itching it helps to warm it with my hair dryer, it seems to take the itch away.
      When I first had the problem I was grateful to see other posts. It was helpful to see how people were dealing with it and that I wasn’t alone,so thanks everyone.

      • A

        Thank you M. This is actually my first time googling this itching problem, but have noticed it for years. I’ve probably been on zyrtec for 7 years. Today I went to my local pharmacy and decided to try Loratadine to help cope with the itching while I get off Zyrtec. The pharmacist hadn’t heard of the itching problem, but thought that trying another antihistamine may help relieve the itching. Thank you for reporting your success with this method.

  • LR

    I’ve been taking Zyrtec and then generic Zyrtec for several years nonstop. I decided to stop taking it two days ago since it’s winter, and I wanted to verify whether I only need it in spring and fall. I woke up today and my thighs and back were incredibly itchy, almost like a burning feeling. I assumed it was because my skin is too dry, but now that I’m reading this I think it’s probably from coming off of the Zyrtec. I also have a terrible headache that feels like a withdrawal headache. I’m trying to drink a lot of water and just let it all get out of my body. I really like Zyrtec as I have had no side effects on it.

    • M

      Try the hair dryer trick LR. It helps me. Just direct it on to the itchy patches. The hot air confuses the nerve endings and takes away the itch. It’s a horrible situation and I know what you are going through. Good luck.

  • Amber

    Zyrtec withdrawal is the REAL deal. Stick it out! There is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Joanna

    They need to pull this horrible drug off the market. The makers of zyrtek should be in prison. No Joke!

  • Amanda Pierce

    I have taken zyrtecd for 6 years or more. I ran out and was taking a nasal spray which seemed to help so I just thought I could stop Zyrtec..
    Been off since Saturday and its Wednesday night.. been itching for days and I knew it was one of 2 things: fabric softener or not taking Zyrtec.So I googled Zyrtec itch….. um yep! Bingo.. Little did I know I am not alone and this is an issue that needs to be addressed. I will never take this medicine again.

  • Kelly Ann West

    i took claritin for allergies and then was advised by my allergist to take more than one a day when I started seeing them for allergy shots. They said it was fine to take multiple allergy pills a day when I questioned if it was Ok to take one before I went to the clinic for my shot since I already took one in the morning. At some point I switched to Zyrtec because the Claritin wasn’t working so well any more. I would estimate I had been on the Zyrtec for 6 years. (maybe longer) At some point it occurred to me to be strange that I could only go maybe 3 days without taking one because I would start to get itchy all over, only to be quelled by taking another Zyrtec. Finally this winter I felt prompted to research why that may be and I came across this site and MANY others with hundreds, dare I say thousands, of stories of what the issue was. I was addicted. And so I decided that it was time to get off it. I may not have allergy issues anymore at all….but was itching like mad from withdrawals. And so I stopped. And the misery of the itching set in. For weeks it would come and go. I took half a Claritin a couple times and upped my Vitamin C for relief a couple times. I slathered myself in coconut oil with lavender and peppermint or Sarna I had left over from when I did the allergy shots. And after a couple weeks it subsided. I am prone to pop up with a couple hives here or there from time to time. I still get itching on my feet, though not nearly as bad. And when I would go walking outside during spring bloom, my arms would get covered with tiny hives. But I’d bring my inhaler just in case.

    Lately I am battling some health issue that I can’t help but wonder could be related in some way. I wonder about the damage I’ve done to my liver and spleen (which Dr. found a cyst on a year and a half ago and said it was common and not an issue, though I have pinchy pain in that area). I wonder if the pop up hives are my body coming in contact with an allergen, my liver cleansing itself of remaining toxins/ chemicals in my body from the Zyrtec or a heightened histamine reaction I’ll have forever because I have permanently damaged that system of my body? Waiting on blood work. Hoping to find a natural doctor because my current one is just insisting I take more drugs…every day…precautionary. She just doesn’t get my not wanting to.

    Had anyone had any non itchy long term withdrawal side effects?

  • I have taken Zyrtec for years, every day, all year round. I started it off of Claritin because I’ve grown up with light seasonal allergies but Claritin didn’t do the trick. Now I’m understanding why I take Zyrtec year-round. About a year ago I ran out of Zyrtec and was in a fit of unbearable full-body hives for two weeks, that could only be quelled by a strong cocktail of antihistamines and a return to Zyrtec immediately. Here I am a year later, having run out of my Zyrtec again, and it’s day 4 and I’m getting increasingly annoying and roaming bouts of itching and light hives. I have been aggressively researching this for the past few days and I must know when this stops. I’m sure it varies from person to person or how long you took Zyrtec… etc. But I am in the throws of exams in school and I will not let myself fall back into Zyrtec to defeat the discomfort. Other symptoms I’m experiencing: Nausea, headaches, lethargy. Can anyone tell me what the timeline looked like for them? I am going to try to get coconut oil and Vitamin C.

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