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.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.158456486042693Zyrtec
Reviews for Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
76%
of people say Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is worth it
46%
say it works well
7%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Claritin (Loratadine)
74%
2% vs. Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
38%
8% vs. Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
6%
+1% vs. Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
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
Antihistamine
2nd generation
Prescription or OTC
Antihistamine
2nd generation
Prescription or OTC
Available as
ZyrtecClaritin
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Orally disintegrating tablet
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
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 category
      ZyrtecClaritin
      NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)

      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.

      See the FDA package insert
      NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)

      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.

      See the FDA package insert
      Alcohol
      No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
      Food
      No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
      Kidneys and liver
      • 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 specific kidneys and liver-related info.
      Sex
      No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
      Sleep
      • People age 65 and older have a higher risk of troublesome side effects from taking antihistamine medications like Zyrtec (Cetirizine). Watch out for changes in vision, severe dry mouth, trouble urinating, or constipation. Also, feelings of drowsiness may leave you "unsteady" on your feet. This can make you more likely to fall causing broken bones or other serious injuries. Talk with your doctor before using Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and stop using it if you have side effects.
      • Relieves allergy symptoms like sneezing and runny nose just as well as other antihistamines, but with less sedation (drowsiness).
      • People age 65 and older have a higher risk of troublesome side effects from taking antihistamine medications like Claritin (Loratadine). Watch out for changes in vision, severe dry mouth, trouble urinating, or constipation. Also, feelings of drowsiness may leave you "unsteady" on your feet. This can make you more likely to fall causing broken bones or other serious injuries. Talk with your doctor before using Claritin (Loratadine) and stop using it if you have side effects.
      Weight
      No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
      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.
      • Not for kids under 2 years.
      • The Reditabs version contains aspartame (phenylalanine).
      • 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
      ZyrtecClaritin
      • Starts working in a few hours. Only take it once a day.
      • 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.
      • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
      • Take it only once a day.
      • Starts working in a few hours.
      • 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.
      • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
      Learn more
      More about ZyrtecSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about ClaritinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert