Compare Claritin vs. Afrin

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

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Claritin (loratadine)

Prescription or OTC

Afrin (oxymetazoline)

Prescription or OTC
Treats allergies.

Claritin (loratadine) is a once-daily medicine for allergies that won't make you as sleepy as other medicines that work like it.

3.7/ 5 average rating with 1517 reviewsforClaritin
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
  • It doesn't cause daytime drowsiness unlike other antihistamines.
  • Side-effects are mild, if any at all.
  • Available over-the-counter without a prescription.
  • It provides quick relief of allergy symptoms for both children and adults.
  • It doesn't interfere with how a lot of other medicines work.
  • 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
  • It's not the best choice if you have persistent, daily allergy symptoms.
  • It's not recommended for children less than 2 years old.
  • 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.
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Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Nasal spray
Price
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Reviews
1517 reviews so far
74%
saidit'sworth it
38%
saiditworked well
6%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?

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
19possible side effects
  • Headache
    12%
  • Drowsiness
    8%
  • Nervousness or anxiety
    4%
  • Wheezing
    4%
  • Tiredness
    4%
  • Rash
    3%
  • Diarrhea
    3%
  • Mouth or tongue irritation
    3%
  • Dry mouth
    3%
  • Hyperactive behavior
    3%
  • Ear pain
    3%
  • Bloody nose
    3%
  • Sore throat
    3%
  • Flu-like symptoms
    3%
  • Abdominal pain
    2%
  • Pink eye
    2%
  • Lung infections
    2%
  • Difficulty speaking
    2%
  • Feeling uneasy or uncomfortable
    2%
See more detailed side effects
The Afrin (oxymetazoline) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Difficulty concentrating
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Excess phenylalanine
    • History of phenylketonuria (PKU)
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Rebound nasal congestion
    • Using Afrin (oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days
See more detailed risks and warnings