What is Cetirizine and what is it used for?
Cetirizine is an antihistamine medicine that relieves the symptoms of allergies. It’s used to treat:
- hay fever
- conjunctivitis (red, itchy eye)
- hives (urticaria)
- reactions to insect bites and stings
- some food allergies
Cetirizine is known as a non-drowsy antihistamine. It’s much less likely to make you feel sleepy than some other antihistamines. Cetirizine is available on prescription. You can also buy it from pharmacies and supermarkets.
It comes as tablets, capsules and as a liquid that you swallow.
Who can and can’t take Cetirizine?
Cetirizine tablets and liquid that you buy from pharmacies and supermarkets can be taken by adults and children aged 6 and older. Children over the age of 2 can also take liquid cetirizine for hay fever and skin allergies. Cetirizine can also be taken under medical supervision by children aged 1 year and older.
Cetirizine isn’t suitable for some people. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to cetirizine or any other medicines in the past
- have an allergy to the food additives E218 or E216
- have an intolerance to or can’t absorb some sugars, such as lactose or sorbitol
- have liver or kidney failure
- have epilepsy or another health problem that puts you at risk of fits
- have a condition that means you have difficulty peeing
- are booked to have an allergy test – taking cetirizine may affect the results, so you might need to stop taking it a few days before the test
What are the common side effects of this drug?
Like all medicines, cetirizine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Common side effects
Common side effects of cetirizine happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don’t go away:
- feeling sleepy and tired
- dry mouth
- feeling sick (nausea)
- feeling dizzy
- stomach pain
- sore throat
- cold-like symptoms of the nose
- itching or a rash
- tingling in your hands and feet
- feeling agitated
Children are more likely to get diarrhoea or cold-like symptoms of the nose than adults.