Compare Claritin vs. Zyrtec

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Claritin
(loratadine)

Zyrtec
(cetirizine)

Treats allergy symptoms. Claritin (Loratadine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that doesn't make you feel sleepy.Treats allergy symptoms. Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that won't make you feel too sleepy.
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Coupons for Claritin
Best available price for 30 (24 hour) tablets of claritin
Coupons for Zyrtec
Best available price for 30 (24 hour) tablets of zyrtec
Reviews & ratings
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5Claritin
Reviews for Claritin
74%
of people (All ages) say Claritin is worth it
38%
say it works well
6%
say it's a big hassle
1517 reviews
Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Zyrtec
76%
-2% worse vs. Claritin
47%
-9% worse vs. Claritin
7%
+1% better vs. Claritin
1232 reviews
Have you used Zyrtec (cetirizine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
ClaritinZyrtec

We haven’t found good data for Claritin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Claritin »

We haven’t found good data for Zyrtec side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Zyrtec »
How it works
ClaritinZyrtec
Claritin (Loratadine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. Antihistamines can also make you sleepy, but Loratadine is a low-drowsiness version.Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. Antihistamines can also make you sleepy, but Zyrtec is a low-drowsiness version.
Type of medication
ClaritinZyrtec
Prescription or OTCPrescription or OTC
Available as
ClaritinZyrtec
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Orally disintegrating tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
Used for
ClaritinZyrtec
Risk factors for serious side effects
ClaritinZyrtec
  • Age 65 or older
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • History of phenylketonuria (PKU)
Detailed Claritin (loratadine) risks & warnings »
  • Age 65 or older
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Current kidney disease
  • Current liver disease
Detailed Zyrtec (cetirizine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

Food
ClaritinZyrtec
  • Claritin (Loratadine) contains aspartame (phenylalanine). People who have phenylketonuria (PKU) can't break down the amino acid phenylalanine. It builds up and causes serious medical problems. If you have PKU, don't use this product.
No food related info.
Kidneys and liver
ClaritinZyrtec
No kidneys and liver related info.
  • People with kidney or liver disease may need to take a lower dose of Zyrtec (Cetirizine) to prevent overdose. Talk with your doctor to be sure you are using the correct dose.
Sleep
ClaritinZyrtec
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
Upsides and benefits
ClaritinZyrtec
  • Relieves allergy symptoms like sneezing and runny nose just as well as other antihistamines, but with less sedation (drowsiness).
  • Also treats hives and itchy skin.
  • Side effects are rare and usually mild.
  • Available over the counter without a prescription.
  • Comes as a tablet, liquid, or quick-dissolving tablet.
  • Can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • Okay to take with most other medications because it doesn't have many interactions.
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine) works as well as other antihistamines to treat sneezing and runny nose, but causes less sedation.
  • Works well to also treat hives and itchy skin.
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is available over the counter without a prescription.
  • It comes as a tablet, liquid, and quick-dissolving tablet.
  • It can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • It's okay to take with most other medications because it has few drug interactions.
  • Most people don't get any side effects from Zyrtec (Cetirizine).
Downsides and risks
ClaritinZyrtec
  • For some people, its effectiveness on treating allergies wears off over time.
  • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines (like Zyrtec or Benadryl) are more effective for them.
  • If you have daily allergy symptoms, a prescription nasal steroid spray might be better for you long-term.
  • Not for kids under 2 years.
  • The Reditabs version contains aspartame (phenylalanine).
  • Although it works fast, its effectiveness wears off for some people over time.
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine) can be slightly more sedating than Allegra or Claritin.
  • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines, like Benadryl, are more effective for them than Zyrtec (Cetirizine).
  • If you have daily allergy symptoms, a prescription nasal steroid spray might be better for you long-term.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
ClaritinZyrtec
  • Take it only once a day.
  • Starts working in a few hours.
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
  • Avoid possible side effects by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated liquids.
  • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor about trying a nasal steroid instead, which might work better for you long-term.
  • Using an antihistamine eye drop might work better to help itchy or watery eyes.
  • Starts working in a few hours. Only take it once a day.
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
  • Avoid some of the side effects by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated liquids.
  • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor about trying a nasal steroid instead since it might work better for you long-term.
  • Using an antihistamine eye drop instead can also work better to treat itchy or watery eyes.
Learn more
More about ClaritinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about ZyrtecSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Zyrtec (cetirizine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it