Compare Flonase vs. Afrin

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

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Flonase (fluticasone)

Prescription or OTC

Afrin (oxymetazoline)

Prescription or OTC
Relieves nasal allergy symptoms.

Flonase (fluticasone) is a good first-choice treatment for allergies of the nose, but long-term use can increase the risk of nosebleeds.

3.7/ 5 average rating with 890 reviewsforFlonase
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
  • Only need to use Flonase (fluticasone) once a day. Its effects can last for up to 24 hours.
  • Available over-the-counter and cheaper than many of its alternatives.
  • Highly effective treatment of allergy symptoms in the nose.
  • Flonase (fluticasone) gives you very little to no side effects since it's a nasal spray and doesn't expose the rest of your body to the medicine.
  • 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
  • Flonase (fluticasone) is not an appropriate medicine for people who have an injured nose or had a recent surgery in the nose.
  • Can slow down the growth rate in children.
  • Can increase the risk of bleeding and fungal infections in the nose.
  • Not recommended for those who are also taking other medicines that lower their ability to fight off infections.
  • 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
  • Nasal spray
  • Nasal spray
Price
No pricing information available
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Reviews
890 reviews so far
72%
saidit'sworth it
43%
saiditworked well
7%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Flonase (fluticasone)?

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
7possible side effects
  • Headache
    7%
  • Asthma-like symptoms
    7%
  • Sore throat
    6%
  • Nosebleed
    6%
  • Nausea/vomiting
    5%
  • Cough
    4%
  • Nasal burning/nasal irritation
    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
  • Decreased growth rate in children
    • Children
    • Using the medicine for a long period of time
  • Effect on wound healing
    • People who had recent surgery or injury to the nose
  • Lowered ability to fight off infections
    • People who come into contact with others who have chickenpox, measles, or tuberculosis
    • People who have not received a vaccine for chickenpox, measles, or tuberculosis
  • Damage to nose
    • Using the medicine for a long period of time
  • Sinus infection
    • People who recently had the cold or flu
  • Increased risk of nosebleeds
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Rebound nasal congestion
    • Using Afrin (oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days
See more detailed risks and warnings