Compare Flonase vs. Zyrtec

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

Flonase
(Fluticasone)

Zyrtec
(Cetirizine)

Relieves allergy symptoms. Flonase (Fluticasone) is a good first-choice medicine for treating a runny or stuffy nose caused by allergies, and it's cheaper than some alternatives.Treats allergy symptoms. Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that won't make you feel too sleepy.
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Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.048808172531214Flonase
Reviews for Flonase (Fluticasone)
72%
of people (All ages) say Flonase (Fluticasone) is worth it
43%
say it works well
7%
say it's a big hassle
881 reviews
Have you used Flonase (Fluticasone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
76%
+4% vs. Flonase (Fluticasone)
46%
+3% vs. Flonase (Fluticasone)
7%
Same vs. Flonase (Fluticasone)
1218 reviews
Have you used Zyrtec (Cetirizine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
FlonaseZyrtec
  • Asthma symptoms 4%
  • Nausea/vomiting 3%
  • Nosebleed 2%
  • Headache 1%
  • Cough 1%
  • Sore throat 1%
More Flonase side effects »

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

FDA side effect reports for Zyrtec »
How it works
FlonaseZyrtec
Flonase (Fluticasone) is a nasal steroid. It works directly in your nose to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by allergies.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
FlonaseZyrtec
Anti-inflammatory
Corticosteroid
Prescription or OTC
Antihistamine
2nd generation
Prescription or OTC
Available as
FlonaseZyrtec
  • Nasal spray
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
FlonaseZyrtec
Risk factors for serious side effects
FlonaseZyrtec
  • Switching from oral or injectable steroids to inhaled, especially if used long term
  • Using other inhaled steroids with Flonase (Fluticasone)
    • Long-term use
    • Taking more than recommended dose
    • Switching from oral or injectable steroids to inhaled, especially if used long term
    • Using other inhaled steroids with Flonase (Fluticasone)
    • Long-term use
    • Exposure to immunizable diseases (chickenpox and measles)
    • Exposure to tuberculosis
    • Surgery or trauma to the nose or sinuses
    • Long-term use
    Detailed Flonase (Fluticasone) 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

      Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      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.

      Kidneys and liver
      FlonaseZyrtec
      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.
      Pain
      FlonaseZyrtec
      • Long-term use of Flonase (Fluticasone) can increase your chances of getting thrush in the nose and throat. Your doctor will check your nose and throat if you have to be on this medication for a long time. Also, tell your doctor if you notice pain in the nose and throat with redness and white patches.
      No pain related info.
      Sleep
      FlonaseZyrtec
      No sleep related info.
      • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
      Upsides and benefits
      FlonaseZyrtec
      • First-choice medication for treating runny and stuffy noses caused by allergies. It works by reducing inflammation in the nose.
      • Because it's used directly where the inflammation is happening, it has fewer side effects than oral steroids do and has a lower chance of causing withdrawal symptoms once the medication is stopped.
      • Can be used as needed to help control symptoms in people age 13 years or older.
      • Available as a generic medication.
      • 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
      FlonaseZyrtec
      • Flonase (Fluticasone) doesn't have a counter on it, so it can be hard to remember how many sprays are left (each bottle has 120 sprays).
      • Needs to be primed (pressed/pumped until a fine spray appears) up to six times prior to using it for the first time, or if you haven't used it in 2 weeks.
      • Since the medicine in Flonase (Fluticasone) is a steroid, it can slow down your healing process if you've hurt your nose or had nose surgery.
      • 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
      FlonaseZyrtec
      • It can take several days for Flonase (Fluticasone) to start working fully.
      • Don't take more of it than was prescribed for you.
      • Blow your nose before using Flonase (Fluticasone).
      • Can cause thrush (a fungal infection) inside the nose and throat.
      • Can also cause a headache, sore throat, or nosebleeds.
      • 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 FlonaseSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      Have you used Flonase (Fluticasone)?
      Worth itNot sureNot worth it
      More about ZyrtecSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      Have you used Zyrtec (Cetirizine)?
      Worth itNot sureNot worth it