Compare Zyrtec vs. Claritin

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

Zyrtec
(cetirizine)

Claritin
(loratadine)

Treats allergy symptoms. Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that won't make you feel too sleepy.Treats allergy symptoms. Claritin (Loratadine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that doesn't make you feel sleepy.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.17Zyrtec
Reviews for Zyrtec
76%
of people (All ages) say Zyrtec is worth it
47%
say it works well
7%
say it's a big hassle
1232 reviews
Have you used Zyrtec (cetirizine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Claritin
74%
+2% better vs. Zyrtec
38%
+9% better vs. Zyrtec
6%
-1% worse vs. Zyrtec
1517 reviews
Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
ZyrtecClaritin

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

FDA side effect reports for Zyrtec »

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

FDA side effect reports for Claritin »
How it works
ZyrtecClaritin
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.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.
Type of medication
ZyrtecClaritin
Prescription or OTCPrescription or OTC
Available as
ZyrtecClaritin
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Orally disintegrating tablet
  • Liquid
Used for
ZyrtecClaritin
Risk factors for serious side effects
ZyrtecClaritin
  • 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 »
  • Age 65 or older
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • History of phenylketonuria (PKU)
Detailed Claritin (loratadine) 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
ZyrtecClaritin
No food related info.
  • 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.
Kidneys and liver
ZyrtecClaritin
  • 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.
No kidneys and liver related info.
Sleep
ZyrtecClaritin
  • 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
ZyrtecClaritin
  • 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).
  • 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.
Downsides and risks
ZyrtecClaritin
  • 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.
  • 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).
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
ZyrtecClaritin
  • 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.
  • 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.
Learn more
More about ZyrtecSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Zyrtec (cetirizine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about ClaritinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it