Compare Zyrtec vs. Claritin

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

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Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Over-the-counter

Claritin (loratadine)

Prescription or OTC
Treats allergy symptoms.

Zyrtec (cetirizine) can help you with some allergy symptoms without making you very drowsy.

3.8/ 5 average rating with 1232 reviewsforZyrtec
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
Upsides
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) works to treat sneezing and runny nose, and causes less sedation compared to Benadryl.
  • 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 relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) has few drug interactions with other medicines.
  • Most people don't get any side effects from Zyrtec (cetirizine).
  • 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.
Downsides
  • Although it works fast, Zyrtec (cetirizine)'s effectiveness wears off for some people over time.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) can make you a little more sleepy compared to Allegra or Claritin.
  • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines, like Benadryl (diphenhydramine), are more effective for them than Zyrtec (cetirizine).
  • It's not the best choice if you have persistent, daily allergy symptoms.
  • It's not recommended for children less than 2 years old.
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Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
Price
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Reviews
1232 reviews so far
76%
saidit'sworth it
47%
saiditworked well
7%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Zyrtec (cetirizine)?

Leave a review
1517 reviews so far
74%
saidit'sworth it
38%
saiditworked well
6%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?

Leave a review
Side effects
The Zyrtec (cetirizine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
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
Risks and risk factors
  • Increased side effects in the elderly
    • Age 65 or older
  • Impaired alertness
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • History of liver or kidney conditions
    • History of liver or kidney disease
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • 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