Compare Phenylephrine vs. Afrin

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

Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)

Prescription or OTC

Afrin (oxymetazoline)

Prescription or OTC
Clears your sinuses.

Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a good medication for relieving stuffy nose. It doesn't work as well as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), but it has fewer side effects.

3.1/ 5 average rating with 164 reviewsforPhenylephrine
Clears your sinuses.

Afrin (oxymetazoline) clears stuffy noses, but can worsen your congestion if it is used more frequently than 3 days in a row.

3.7/ 5 average rating with 599 reviewsforAfrin
Upsides
  • Works to clear nasal congestion and helps you breathe better.
  • Helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches.
  • Has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine.
  • It doesn't raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep.
  • Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse symptoms when you stop taking it) like nasal spray decongestants do.
  • It works right away and each dose lasts up to 12 hours.
  • The effect is limited to your nasal passageways so it may be safer than other decongestants you take orally.
  • Available as a nasal spray and a nasal mist.
  • Can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription.
Downsides
  • Phenylephrine doesn't last as long as other decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
  • You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
  • Can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
  • Not as effective after using it for 4 days in a row.
  • Sometimes Afrin (oxymetazoline) causes temporary stinging, burning, or dryness of the nose.
  • Talk to your doctor first before using it in children younger than 6 years old.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
  • Nasal spray
Price
No pricing information available
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Reviews
164 reviews so far
44%
saidit'sworth it
24%
saiditworked well
10%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)?

Leave a review
599 reviews so far
71%
saidit'sworth it
47%
saiditworked well
12%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Afrin (oxymetazoline)?

Leave a review
Side effects
The Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Afrin (oxymetazoline) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • High blood pressure
    • History of high blood pressure
    • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • Heart problems
    • History of heart problems
    • Age 65 years or older
  • Harm to fetus
    • Women of childbearing age
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Rebound nasal congestion
    • Using Afrin (oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days
See more detailed risks and warnings