That time I stopped taking Zyrtec (cetirizine) and couldn’t stop itching

Sometimes, a title has to say it all. This is really, truly about how incredibly itchy I’ve gotten…as a result of withdrawal from the Zyrtec (cetirizine) I’ve been taking for the last couple of years. (First warning: before you start/stop taking Zyrtec or cetirizine, talk to your doctor. Seriously, that’s what they’re there for.)

Backing up slightly: I developed seasonal allergies somewhere in the range of about 14-15 years ago. I started off with brand-name medicine (Allegra), before they started to make these medicines available over the counter (OTC). When Allegra started having less and less effect on my allergy symptoms (coughing and itchy throat, in particular), I switched to Claritin. When Claritin went OTC not long thereafter, I continued to buy it – but eventually switched to the generic (loratidine). This went on for a number of years until I was able to stop taking these meds entirely, my seasonal allergies having mysteriously stopped after I gave birth to dd. Hallelujah! But short-lived…

After I gave birth to ds, the allergies I so happily lost three years before came back in spades (ugh!) – and that meant getting back on loratidine. Eventually, even that stopped helping me, and I’d wake in the middle of summer nights, when the windows were open, with terrible coughing fits. It was horrible. So, I decided to try Zyrtec – or, rather, the generic (cetirizine). My first impression of cetirizine was that it must be rather powerful, since I practically hibernated the first 48-72 hours I was on it. I was so incredibly sleepy. Once I pushed past that threshold, though, my life got much better. The coughing cleared right up, and I was able to function like a normal human being again. Hallelujah, part two!

Over the past couple of years, there have been times when I’ve failed to take the cetirizine on schedule; sometimes it’s that I ran out and haven’t made it to Target to buy another large bottle of pills. Sometimes, it’s been that I thought I didn’t need to take it. But the coughing always came back, so I would run right back to the cetirizine. It became a “take all year-long” kind of thing. On the nights when I didn’t have my nightly regimen of pills already tucked away (fish oil for my eyes, a multivitamin, iron supplement, and the cetirizine), I’d just make sure to take at least the cetirizine, to stave off coughing.

At my annual wellvisit (physical) a few weeks ago, the doctor told me that she’d rather I switched to Flonase and reserve the cetirizine for when I need supplemental allergy help. Apparently, Flonase takes a few weeks to take effect, but once it kicks in, it’s great. For allergy seasons like we’re having right now, when all the sexy flowers and trees are having sexy flower and tree sex with the pollen, it’s just brutal and I need all the support I can get. So, I got a script for generic Flonase (fluticasone), filled it, and started taking that daily. Since I figured that I should follow her directions to use the Flonase as my primary medicine and reserve the cetirizine for supplemental help, I just stopped taking cetirizine.

And then I started itching. And itching. And itching. And WTH I’m so itchy.

There are no hives, although my skin does get red where I scratch it. This is one of those all-over body itches, where it’s your scalp, your arms, your legs, your belly, your back…everywhere. It’s crazy.

Wondering if perhaps this was something that others experienced, I googled for “zyrtec and itching”. And oh boy, did I come up with a ton of results. There were even stories in things like the Chicago Tribune, where the letter to the health editor could have been written by me. The anecdotal results I scanned last night all came out with the same results: the itching typically runs anywhere from 2-4 weeks long, and there’s nothing – short of going back on the Zyrtec / cetirizine – that will make it stop dead in its tracks. There were some folks who said they just went back to the drug full-time, because they couldn’t bear the withdrawal symptoms; you could tell by their posts that they felt trapped, physically addicted to a seemingly harmless allergy medication that now they can’t (or won’t) stop taking. Some folks have had success with step-down protocols, where they use pill cutters to take limited doses and taper off over a period of weeks. Some have just toughed it out and waited for the itching to stop.

I’m planning to go the latter route, because I’m a stubborn person and really – *$&% Zyrtec and cetirizine. If the only way to get the withdrawal side effects to go away is to go back on the drug itself, then that’s physical addiction and I’m just not having it. This is definitely a great allergy medication, but the side effects of withdrawal are just NOT fun. Of course, I’ll say that many meds have side effects when you’re taking them, so this is sort of like the ultimate bad breakup.

{Side note: it’s also impressive and more than a little frustrating that McNeil – Zyrtec’s manufacturer – doesn’t have a warning saying that this could happen to you. Many online posts I read complained about this lack of information from the manufacturer, claiming that it was fairly reckless of them to know this and not warn people, but I guess they figured that if you have a problem when you come down off their meds, that’s not THEIR problem, that’s yours.}

So, what should you do if you’re on Zyrtec or cetirizine? First off, this is a conversation you should have with your primary care doctor or allergist. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to stay on the medicine. If it’s not harming you and you need it, and your doctor wants you on it: great. If you decide you want to come down off the medicine or swap it out, talk with your doctor about the treatment they recommend for you. Don’t design a step-down plan on your own; do it with your doctor. Don’t whip out a pill cutter and start a step-down protocol without checking with your doctor and being certain that’s what they want you to do. Don’t stop taking Zyrtec or cetirizine without consulting with your doctor. (Note that I had this consultation during my physical; we had this discussion, and I’m acting in accordance with what we agreed.)

I can’t say this strongly enough: HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT WHAT ALLERGY MEDICATIONS, IF ANY, ARE RIGHT FOR YOU AND YOUR CONDITION. DON’T TRUST THE ADS, DON’T DO WHAT I DID JUST BECAUSE I’M COOL AND SEEM TO HAVE MY ACT TOGETHER. DON’T LET DR. GOOGLE PRESCRIBE YOU ANYTHING. DON’T DESIGN YOUR OWN STEP-DOWN PROTOCOL WITHOUT TALKING FIRST WITH YOUR DOCTOR.

The purpose of this post is to serve as a warning to those who are on Zyrtec (cetirizine), who are considering going off it, or who stopped taking it, just to provide some information about what many people (and now I) have experienced upon stopping a long-term treatment with it. Now you’re armed with the knowledge that this could happen to you, as well, so before you start, change, or stop a course of allergy treatment that involves Zyrtec or cetirizine, you just got a new question to ask your doctor.

85 thoughts on “That time I stopped taking Zyrtec (cetirizine) and couldn’t stop itching

    • Yep – I did come off it. I think it took about 4-5 weeks for the itching to subside. What’s funny is how the manufacturer of Zyrtec said that this is totally not a thing, yet I have thousands of views of this post (and the search term combos in my analytics, like “zyrtec itching withdrawal”) that say otherwise.

      • I am wondering why there is no class action suit? I started taking Zyrtec off little by little, but I’m also using Claritin to help keep the itching at bay. I didn’t have these problems when I was using Claritin. So far, it seems to be diminishing – although I still can’t go a full 48 hours without the itching and angiodema starting.

        • I’m guessing that the reason there hasn’t been one is either that A) no one’s organized around it, or B) the side-effect (some kind of histamine reaction) is considered a nuisance but not life-threatening or disruptive enough to make it through the courts. The company seemed genuinely shocked when I posted about it, but I’ve had well over 1,000 hits on this post alone, often by people searching for “Zyrtec” and “itching” so there’s no way that it’s just you and me!

          • Thank you for this post!! I thought it was all in my head! I have been getting allergy shots for about 10 years now and I take a 10mg of Zyrtec daily. I am supposed to go get retested for my allergies and they said I had to be off allergy meds for a full 72 hours before testing. Saturday was my last dose and I am about ready to crawl out of my skin! My restesting is not until T-H-U-R-S-D-A-Y!!!!! Any suggestions on how to handle the itching?

          • What you probably need is an antihistamine; the question is whether you’re allowed one. (My guess is not.) I’d call the allergist’s office and see if there’s anything you can take that won’t interfere with the test (Benadryl, maybe?). The key thing is not to take ANYTHING without checking with them so that you don’t end up having to go through this all over again! Good luck and sorry that I couldn’t be more helpful than that.

          • I’m currently going through the same experience. I was on Zyrtec for the past couple of years, but sopped taking it in order to go through allergy testing. The itching started on the back of my hands, but only occasional. It’s now non stop on my hands and arms. Nothing seemed to help. I read somewhere about using menthol lotions. I happened to have Mentha Foot by C.O Bigelow and it seems to be helping a little. I’ve read where some have used “a short regime of corticosteroids,” so I have scheduled a Dr appointment to discuss it.

          • I just called Zyrtec to see if they knew of a way to get rid of the itching and the woman that answered the phone had never heard of this skin itching withdrawal symptom. But my daughter is having allergy testing tomorrow and has been off of zyrtec for 2 days now and is about to rip her skin off. I am looking for alternative solutions but so far I am just seeing the same problem we are having with no ideas for relief 🙁

          • I called them before and got the same “who…us?!” answer. They’re trained at this point to claim that everything is 100% fine, but I have literally tens of thousands of hits on this post that indicate this is a problem.

            The doc doing the allergy testing should be able to tell you what she can take safely. I hope she feels better soon!

  1. OMG, I’m so glad I found this post. I’m so not alone. I’ve been taking cetirizine for around 3 years now and I do miss a few doses here and there with no problem at all. But last month it all changed! I ran out of my cetirizine and did not take any for 2 days. My hands started itching and as the hours passed, the itching progresses to my arms and head… the itching was mild though but my lips got a little swollen. I thought nothing of it at first, just took cetirizine again the following morning and the itching went away. The following week, I just went a day without taking cetirizine and i couldn’t sleep that night my body itched all over! I think I uprooted some of my hair from scratching my head! That’s when I got suspicious and started to search about cetirizine itching and lo and behold! I first read about this withdrawal from peoplepharmacy.com, a lot of people are obviously experiencing it and are sharing experiences on how to get out of it.

    I am now trying to take half a tablet of cetirizine daily and hope to gradually taper it off. My hands are stiff and itching as I’m typing this comment. Wish me luck please!

    • Yikes!!! I hope you’re able to taper successfully. It may also be worth at least a call to your doctor’s office to make sure that they don’t need to see you.

      And you’re definitely NOT alone!

  2. A class action is in order for this “medicine”. Isn’t it convenient that the largest withdraw effect is also a symptom of the drug???

  3. I had terrible withdrawals from Zyrtec when I stopped taking it, it took 6wks in all to get off it completely. I am curious as to whether or not you noticed any other changes when you did stop taking it.

    I, and plenty of other people if you read all the complaint websites, suffered a whole host of side effects whilst taking Zyrtec. Most severe being that I became severely depressed and anxious. I didn’t actually realise that it was related to the Zyrtec until I stopped it and had an overnight change in mood back to my old self. The onset was gradual and I’d never linked it with my daily Zyrtec, nor had I realised how severe it was until the sudden change back to normal when I stopped taking the Zyrtec.

    • Wow. I didn’t have any side effects while using it and I didn’t feel any different emotionally after I went off, aside from “HOLY COW THIS ITCHING IS AWFUL AND ANNOYING!”

  4. Holy cow..The itching is so bad that I just buckled and took half of a dose of my sons benadryl just so I can make it through this day. #day3

  5. I’ve been taking Zyrtec for a couple years to try to avoid Memphis sinus issues. Last December it finally got to the point where I had to take it to not itch. I never thought it could be the Zyrtec itself. I guess I’ll try to go cold turkey and see if it helps. This is awful.

    • I would recommend tapering or weaning yourself off it. According to my doctor, the itching is a histamine reaction. Assuming you want to switch your meds, your doctor may have suggestions on what to use instead. Good luck!!

  6. I’ve suffered the same problems as many of the stories on here.

    I was taking cetirizine for hay fever and at the end of the summer stopped. I started to get the unbearable itching, hives and inability to sleep so assumed I was allergic to something else, so began taking the tablets again. I’ve since run out and over the last few days have begun to develop the same symptoms again.

    As I have no more tablets and don’t want to continue taking them, I’ve gone cold turkey.

    • Can your doctor recommend something else for your hay fever? I switched to Flonase and it’s been great for me when it comes to my allergies (seasonal & dust).

  7. I too, had the terrible withdrawal from Zyrtec and swore I would never take it again. I would itch so much I had bruises. That was several years ago. I started taking Claritin (generic) for allergies and now the same thing has happened. It has been a week and even though the itching so far isn’t as bad as the Zyrtec, I am having a hard time not taking it. It is sad to be addicted to such a small little pill. Like the original post the drug companies want to keep us buying their product. Also, have mentioned it to Dr.’s and most just don’t even acknowledge it.

    • I went from Claritin to cetirizine, when Claritin stopped working for me, so I didn’t get the withdrawal from one thanks to the other. Some doctors will acknowledge it, but the manufacturer thinks we are all outliers. Hmm. Yeah, don’t think so. Sorry that you’re in such discomfort. 🙁

      • I took Zyrtec for probably 15 years! I was first prescribed it in San Diego when it had first come out. Moved to TX and decided to have allergy tests. Had to stop for 10 days to have allergy tests in TX. Wow, as I had to go the 10 days I stopped the Zyrtec for good. It was the worst. Then I moved to AZ and had some problems and decided to try the generic Claritin. 365 tablets for about $13.00 at Costco! The bottle ran out, so I decided to see if I can do without. I think I would rather sneeze than itch! So stopping for now and will see what happens when allergy season swings around again. I guess stopping makes the histamine go crazy! But at least we know we aren’t alone! Take care!

        • Well after 11 days and the itching only getting worse I decided to start taking the Loratidine (Claritin) again. If it is a histamine response then it is bad. I don’t like it. Easier to take one little pill a day and be comfortable in my own skin! Sorry to have broken down. I hope others make it through it!

  8. I started taking Zyrtec a couple of months ago. I recent stopped taking Zyrtec after a few days I starting itching terribly, I thought I was going crazy, I was in tears from it. That night I took another Zyrtec the itching stopped. I am so glad I’m not alone. Not that I would wish this on my worst enemy but this is terrible to have such intense itching over a small pill you thought that was to help you. I will call my Dr. and tell them about the itching see what he recommends. I want to get off this and never take it again.

    • Ugh – good luck. It’s horrible how much a medicine to make you feel better can set off a reaction THIS BAD when you stop. I hope you feel better soon!

  9. This site has shown me that I’m not going crazy. After years on zyrtec, I stopped. After about 4 days I started itching. Crazy, exactly as everyone else as described. I’m over a week without it and the itching is REAL. Now that I know what it’s from, I feel some relief, though, not from the itching. I will need to go back to it in the spring, but the manufacturer should add it to a warning label. Thank you for helping all of us to understand. K

    • I’ve taken Zyrtec continuously for the last year and just last week, we ran out so I hadn’t taken any and the itching began. It is horrible. I thought I was going crazy until this morning that I realized that there may be a connection and Googled it! I’m going to try to stick it out….I’ve already come this miserably far.

  10. Hello All,

    Im taking this Zyrtec tablet from 2004 to till date, almost 12 years. Initially it was prescribed to me for hives and rashes, daily 2 tablets of 10mg. slowly doctor asked to reduce after 15days to 1 tablet a day and then to half tablet a day. i was able to reduce the tablet to half a day, but couldnt get rid of it. If i try to stop or not taking the tablet, after 2 days itching starts over the whole body along with chest conjestion and cough. once i take half tablet of zyrtec, im releaved in 20-30mins. looking at the hypertension and drowsiness, even i consulted homeopathic doctors… in Dr.Batra’s clinic. continued both Zyrtec and Homeopathic medicine for almost 3years…still i was not able to stop this itching and consumption of zyrtec. Is there any permanent remedy or solution in the world to stop this itching due to zyrtec withdrawal? What are these Scientist doing, who developed cetrizine and zyrtec tablets? Its horrifying for our human to live with such drugs side effect. Could somebody help with any permanent solution to come out of this addiction

    • If you haven’t already consulted with an allergist, that’s the next step I would recommend. For me, cold turkey (no tapering–just STOPPING) worked well enough, but it was a brutal few weeks of being itchy all over. I take Flonase daily for my seasonal allergies, at my doctor’s urging, and that controls my nasal issues well enough. I never had hives and rashes to contend with, so I’m not sure what the right answer is there. As far as what the companies are doing, I can say that I’ve spoken to someone in Customer Service at the company that manufactures Zyrtec (McNeil, which is part of Johnson & Johnson). They said they’d never heard of anyone having the itching from Zyrtec withdrawal…but I have literally THOUSANDS of views of this post that say otherwise (people are searching with phrases like “Zyrtec itching withdrawal”). Other than getting a second opinion (preferably from an allergist), I’m not sure what to recommend. I do hope you feel better soon, tho!

  11. Thanks for your post. I have a similar situation….took Zyrtec for a few months last year for what I thought was seasonal allergies (now I’m not even sure if it wasn’t just a lingering cold that started this whole nightmare….grr) and when I tried to stop it the itching was uncontrollable and maddening, all over and with no visible redness or hives, feeling like it was coming from UNDER my skin, especially on hands, feet, waist, scalp. I got no help from my dermatologist or allergist who both said “it’s ok to be on these meds for long-term.” SO NOT THE POINT!!! I did my internet research and found the many others suffering, so at least I know I’m not alone. I decided to try Allegra as a replacement that might be easier to wean off….but it’s now been almost a year on Allegra (once daily) and even though it completely abolishes the itch, I can’t get by a day without it….within an hour or two of waking up I start itching again. I did cut myself back from 1 pill daily to 1/2 pill daily about 4 months ago and it still seems to be working just fine so might try going down to 1/4 pill and see if the slow wean will eventually get me off this damn drug!!! Sorry to hear all the others that are suffering and I hope we all find relief somehow.

    • Thanks for sharing! It’s crazy that these meds are expected to turn into chronic use rather than fix them so they don’t make your body dependent upon them for an itch-free existence.

  12. I’m in Itchiness Hell!
    Been going on for about a week and a half.
    i don’t know of this is a bad thing to do or not, but I am desperate!
    I had my husband rub the icy hot stuff all over- I was freezing, but it works temporarily and takes the itch away. Bengay helped too. Hope this doesn’t last for 4 weeks!!

  13. So, I’ve been taking generic Zyrtec for a few years now and suffered withdrawal symptom when I ran out (for a day) or forgot to take; itchy palms. INTENSELY. ITCHY. PALMS. It only had to happen twice for me to connect the dots and do a web search for Zyrtec/ itchy/ etc. My palms would itch approximately 12 hours after I missed my daily dose. Now I’m armed with info to help me make the switch to more natural allergy control (e.g. Quercetin) and to wean off Zyrtec ( Allegra during initial cut-off to handle itchiness). I believe a vegan diet will help, too. Praying for relief for all sufferers out there! Thanks to crunchymetromom for blog spot!

  14. I started taking Zirtek about 20 years ago as I kept getting giant hives. The advice was to take it regularly to build up levels in the bloodstream and thus prevent further outbreaks.

    Last year (2015) I had severe hay fever and decided to swop to Loratadine to see if it would be more effective against the sneezing and snuffles. I found it quite effective so stayed on it for several weeks – but then the itching began. No hives or rash just insane itching, especially on my arms at night, totally preventing sleep. We had just bought a holiday home in a beautiful river valley – so I blamed the itching on some kind of allergy in that part of the country! I actually consulted a top rated immunologist who ran numerous tests and couldn’t actually find any particular cause – but he then advised me to come off the Loratadine (too weak) and go onto Zirtek again – “two a day for the rest of your life if necessary, its no problem”.

    Last month when I picked up my Zirtek from the pharmacy I was told they thought it might be being withdrawn, however I got my script.

    I shall be interested to see where this goes from here. I’m not sure what they will do for all those people with recurrent hives for which Cetirizine is the only thing that really works if it goes off the market.

    • I’m not aware of Zyrtec being pulled from the market but it is over-the-counter now, so the “withdrawn” comment from your pharmacist may refer to the fact that you may not be able to get a stronger level of it than what’s available without a prescription? Good luck no matter what–the itching is AWFUL. 🙁

  15. I had to stop taking generic Allegra because I’m having allergy testing done later this week. Within a couple of days I started itching everywhere. Not everywhere at once, thank goodness, but it would be my scalp, then my shoulder, then my side, then my leg and so on all over my body. But relentless. There is constantly a part of my body that itches. Heat seems to make it worse, and wouldn’t you know, we are having a heat wave. I hadn’t changed soaps or lotions or anything, so I wondered if it might be withdrawal from the medication. Sure enough, I got online and found many posts like this from other people who are suffering. I asked my pharmacist what to do and he suggested Cortisone cream. I explained that it isn’t a topical problem; it’s systemic, like under my skin! He apologized and said he didn’t know what to tell me! As many of you have said, it helps a little to know that I’m not going crazy and that others feel my pain!

  16. My asthma is out of whack, after a bout of bronchitis, so I made an appt with the allergist. I had to stop taking Zrytec for 7 days and Benedryl for 2 days. I am on day 7 and last night I went through pure hell. I thought I was going to rip my skin off my body. I have never experienced an itchiness like that and I have allergies. I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something. My face feels hivey, but there are no hives. I did a search on how to control itchiness before allergy testing and found Zrytec withdrawal symptoms. Holy Cow! I wish I never took this “miracle” drug. My Dr keeps throwing allergy meds at me…Zrytec, Benedryl, Flonase, Singular on top of my asthma meds. I could be a walking pharmacy if I actually took everything he wants me to take. So, hopefully the allergist will have some answers tomorrow, and can give me the right combo. I won’t take Zrytec again though. How long does the itches last? Was there anything you did to make it through the day or is it pure will power.

    • I think the length of the itchy period varies, but for me it was several weeks of just awfulness. Nothing in particular helped; it was mostly willpower. If you find that heat makes it worse, try dressing in layers or using a cooling towel, maybe? Good luck! It’s so awful when the cure is worse than the affliction. 🙁

  17. I’ve been on Zyrtec for over 6 years for year round allergies…(was taking half a tablet daily). Today I have decided to go “cold turkey” and stop this medication all together! While on this DRUG…I was very depressed,and extremely irritable.Falling asleep took hours and I was dragging the next day. I felt like my whole personality changed while taking Zyrtec…so far I just have a really bad headache and some dizziness. I suppose the severe itching will come soon..but I rather have that than having the whole personality change and depression while on this stuff…good luck to everyone out there trying to quit the AWFUL medication. Don’t start taking it if you haven’t already!!!

  18. I take the Costco brand of Zyrtec, for years. I had went for three days without it and started itching, not realizing what it was, started taking it again for allergies and itching stopped. I am planning on not taking it again starting tomorrow morning, unfortunately took it this morning, as I routinely do. What can I expect as far as time length for itching?

    • Honestly, what I read–and experienced–is that it can be several weeks, and it varies by person. Sorry that I don’t have better news for you. 🙁

  19. Hey Dudes

    İ have been using ZYRTEC on 2013 then on 2014 i used rupafin then Hydroxzine till now. İ am trying to taper off all with allegra 180mg , i will go slowly to 120 then will take 60 per day, i hope i can wear it off as soon as possible, because my life sucks atm, cant do sports, if i wanna do sex my penis becomes itchy , my hands are always sensitive i cant hold anything. Allegra is very weak as an antihistamine but at least i can observe the situation and responses, on zyrtec and hydroxzine its impossible to observe , they are too strong , my guess is zyrtec and hydroxzine are blocking, allegra is lessering i mean supress the itch.

    İ will let you know my experiences, i hope all of us will be fine.gd bless all of you my friends, i send you my light and love

  20. Concluding week 4 of itching like a hound which is no doubt caused by stopping cetirizine after years of daily use! I expressed my concerns to my physician and he said he thought the itching was dry skin, suggested a moisturizer, and thought it was absurd to think it was from stopping cetirizine. He said if I was convinced it was from the drug then i should start taking it again. Buh Bye Dr!

  21. Allegra adventure

    İ am trying to leave antihistamines by allegra i guess it works

    DO THİS!!!!

    Allegra is very weak as an antihistamine so i could have the oportunity to observe the itching and attacks

    START WİTH 180MG 1 WEEK

    After one week you will see that there will be a day without attack that day taper it to a half

    go GO 90 MG 1 WEEK

    After 1 week you will feel comfortable like take 4/1

    GO 45MG 1 WEEK

    atm İ am on 45 and tomorrow i will take 5/1

    Every single tablet regardless what the miligram is responding like 180 mg after a certain time thats good news 😀

    NEXT WEEK İ WİLL BE HERE AND TELL YOU MY EXPERİENCE WİTH 5/!

    Also i take enfla-c (bromelain quercerin +C) and redoxan c vitamın 1000mg every day 2 times

    İ plan to go only quercetin and c for the other week!!!

    And then 1 doses of vitamınes instead of 2 every day

    and other week i guess i will be free

    WİLL LET YOU NOW ASAP

    CHEERS:D

  22. I just wanted to add my story to the list. I have been off the Zyrtec since 5/31/2011 (Yes, I still know the exact date that I quit). I, Like so many others on here started with Claritan, when it stopped working I switched to Allegra then Zyrtec. I started to notice that any time I went more than 24 hours without taking the Zyrtec I became extremely itchy. At first I blamed it on allergies and just took another pill. After a while I noticed that the itching started like clock work so I did some Googling. At the time the best information I could find said that cold turkey was the only way to go and that taking other antihistamines may make it return or prolong the itching.

    The first month and a half was pure hell, mostly at night but some itching during the day. The itching slowly got better but I want to say it was every bit of three years before it completely went away.

    Two nights ago I had that horrible itching again. It’s been over 5 years since I have had any antihistamine so I am sure it was not related at all but it just reminded me of the hell I went through. I ended up here because I wanted to see if any new info was available about this. It is sad to see that the FDA or the makers of Zyrtec have still not acknowledge the issue.

    I wish anyone trying to stop the drug the best of luck and I am glad to hear that people are having luck with the step down method.

  23. Thanks for the post. Stopped a week ago. I felt crawly in addition to itchy and was fearing some type of bugs were on me….I keep checking scalp for creepy things….feel better after finding this post.

  24. yes yes done it!!!

    just go 4 allegra 180mg 1 week
    half pill 1 week
    quarter one week
    8/1 pill 10 days
    then stop !!! it takes 20 days after you stopped to clean perfectly and completely

    its working dudes i am zyrtecfreeeeeeeeee :F

    • Congratulations!! (Tho I’ll ALWAYS give the disclaimer that I am NOT a doctor, and you should always consult with your doctor before doing anything that involves medication. Sorry — I have to say that just so my liability isn’t HAYOOOGE.). 😉

  25. Ok I cave failed to come off citirizine several times due to the itching problem. After a couple of days of increasing itchiness and urticaria starting up in my nether regions (ouch) I went on loratadine. It’s not as effective as citirizine as an antihistamine but it has managed the itching. I still get itches, especially the highly localised pin prick sensations reported above.. Including the palms of the hands thing mentioned above.. But my head, forearms, chest and legs mainly (worst in the hairy areas I’ve found!) but it’s easily bearable with the help of loratadine. I’ll phase off that too so that I only use it in the spring and summer. I’ll just have to avoid dust and cats and rabbits and feathers the rest of the year…

  26. Also my brother did it

    Guys try allegra, this works like magic. İts a weaker option for itching. İts a soft touch . İt wont be super comfortable. But aim is not being supercomfortable.İtching is managable and observable. While tapering off take everyday but taper it slowly. As i sad 1 week for each dosage.
    * 1 dosage/ Half/Quarter/Half Of Quarter makes 4 week
    * Then you will see after 2-3 days it starts leaving your body but slowly
    *After 21 days you will be free %100 (if it is a withdrawal symptome)

    İ also took quercetin and c first 2 week

    B12 complexes are also good i took them last 2 weeks

    My brother also did it. He was using fot 8 years even longer than me. İf you try this formula let everyone know

    All The Bests

    • Thank you for the advice! The weaning process worked for me. I did have to switch and take the Allegra at night (instead of the mornings). I could handle the itching during the day better than I could at night.

  27. Experiencing exactly what everyone else says happened to them. Where is the class action suit I would sign it immediately. I need to get off this drug the itching is unbearable.

    • I don’t know that anyone ever filed a class-action lawsuit. I did contact the manufacturer’s customer service and was told that this isn’t a known side effect. Um, I can tell based on the traffic to this post that it SHOULD BE a known side effect, since many people have gotten it.

  28. Hi guys, I’m 14 years old and start taking Citirizine like 1 month ago because of an eye problem, this is prescribed by the doctor. Then 4 days ago, i missed my dossed and decide to stop it. After a day, omg, my body is so itchy like hell . And still itchy right now huhuhu. I wish that I never start taking this How long will this it itch last? Should I tale Citirizine again or stop using it permanently? HOWWWWW, please help me, please.

    • Without a doubt please call your doctor’s office and report the side effect you had from a missed dose. If the doctor prescribed it for you, there was a reason–and stopping or replacing it is something I would only recommend you do after you’ve talked with your doctor and confirmed they’re okay with that.

  29. I used to take Zyrtec and then I switched over to a generic Walgreens allergy med. I’m trying to get off the meds because the only time of the year I really have allergies is spring. Nose Spray seems to be more effective.

    About a week ago I stopped taking the medication. I am in the itchy phase of the withdrawal. One thing that has helped me cope with the itchiness is to drink lots of WATER! At least a gallon a day. Sure you might pee 15-20 times a day but if it means getting off of the medication then so be it. Plus the health benefits of drinking lots of water during the day are great!

    Anyways the itch right now is mild and bearable. I will update in about another 2-3 weeks and let you know where I’m at.

  30. I just came across this forum and peoplesforum, and consumer affairs complaint about Zyrtec after thinking I was going to end up in the ER from this unbearable itch! I’m on day 8 or stopping Zyrtec cold turkey for allergy testing. I was told to be off for 10 days to get tested for allergies. Second day off and I thought I had cooties!! Oh my bejeesus the itch is horrible!! I’ve been on Zyrtec for years. I’m thinking about 8-10 years. I had to take daily for rhinitis and itching from dust mites and other allergies. Now after reading everyone’s horror story I am going to continue going cold turkey because I do not like being addicted or a slave to drugs. I plan on buying vitamin c, quercitine and bromelaine, as well as stinging nettle tea to relieve any future allergy attacks and to hopefully help with this itch. I itch everywhere but mostly in my scalp, my back, in my ears, thighs and back of the legs. I’m using aveeno and cold packs to help with itching. I get hives and welts from itching as well, I really want to cry most days. I hope this gets out of my system soon.

    • Ugh. I’m so sorry that you’re in this much discomfort. I do know that it got better for me after a few weeks. I do recommend working with your primary care physician and allergist to ensure they’re agreeing on your alternate treatment, but other than that…just hoping you get over the withdrawal as soon as possible!!

  31. Are you sure it’s not the Flonase you started taking? I’ve never had any side effects with Zyrtec, though I take it occasionally. I started Flonase and now whenever I sweat, even the slightest, I get so itchy I feel like I have to rip my clothes off and start scratching all over. It’s brutal. I’m a runner and I can’t even go for a run. (Actually I just ran into my house because I couldn’t even make it a mile the itching got so bad) I found your website in trying to find out what in the world is going on. The only thing new I’ve introduced into my life is Flonase over the last two weeks.

    • For me, going days without Flonase doesn’t make me itchy. Going days without Zyrtec, I felt like I had itching *under* my skin. And this is precisely why I feel so strongly about people talking with their doctors before changing course/meds; these things can affect different people differently. I’ve never before heard of Flonase withdrawal being an issue — but I’m sure anything is possible. :-/

      Maybe worth trying a different OTC, like Nasacort?

  32. I have been taking Zyrtec (citirizine) for several years to help relieve dermographism. What I don’t know is if taking the Zyrtec actually created the dermographism? I have other allergies and was prescribed Zyrtec to help with relieve my allergies.
    There’s been a few times I had forgotten to take Zyrtec for a couple of days and would notice the itching would come back. Thinking that it was due to my allergies I would just take another Zyrtec and in a few minutes my itching would go away.
    It wasn’t until recently that I connected the dots that the itching could be related to not taking Zyrtec. I’m really glad I found this site and know that I’m not alone.
    I’m on day 2 of not taking Zyrtec and I’m itching like crazy. Not sure I will be able to make it another day. This is something I will be talking to my doctor about and am hoping to get some reasonable feedback from my doctor.

    Thank you for this site and for everyone’s contributions. I hope that we all find a way off this drug without too much agony.

  33. Adding my story to the list. I have been taking Zyrtec since at least 2008 (so 9 years at this point). I didn’t take it daily, but would always get hives and uncomfortable itching which I thought were due to my allergies.

    Fast forward to this month, I had another allergy test to try and manage my itching once and for all. The allergist was useless, said he couldn’t give me shots for dermatitis (only work for hayfever), but did give me one valuable piece of information: itching is a common side-effect of Zyrtec withdrawal. I Googled it, found this blog as well as People’s Pharmacy (not sure what kind of a site that is), and apparently thousands have experienced these withdrawal symptoms. Now I am doubting whether my itchy hives were EVER due to allergies themselves, or if they were just due to Zyrtec withdrawal. They would always come 1-3 days after my last Zyrtec pill and disappear immediately once I took the pill. This is a horrible drug and agree with all, there should be a class action suit and warning labels.

    IMPORTANT TIPS for dealing with the itch that I’ve collected from more Google searching (I’m on Day 6 now):
    ** HEAT PADS really help. Put them on the itchy spot and they provide fast relief.
    ** DEEP BREATHING. Never believed that this would work but it really helps me get through the insatiable itching and try to keep from scratching, which just makes thing worse.
    ** AVOID SKIN CONTACT including in the shower. No exfoliation or loofahs, and not aggressively shampooing my head, really started helping. Previously my scalp would light on fire every time I scratched it while shampooing, and my whole body would be covered in welts after shower with the loofah. Much better now, soft contact.
    ** WEAR LOOSE FITTING, SMOOTH CLOTHES. I have a satin robe I live in now, try not to wear tight undergarments.
    ** CORTIZONE CREAMS can temporarily help the itching. Triamcinolone cream is a stronger variant to over-the-counter Anticortizone creams, but both can help temporarily relieve and keep you from scratching yourself raw.
    ** HOMEOPATHIC ANTIHISTAMINES — I ordered some natural stuff off Amazon that contains stinging nettle, Quercetine, and Bromelaine. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UOIMSL2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I have yet to take it, will update if it works well.

    I have not substituted other anti-histamines for the Zyrtec because I’m scared of similar withdrawal symptoms. Does going to Claritin or Allegra really help, or is it just substituting one poison for another?

    • As far as Allegra and other meds go, any antihistamine may cause the same reaction. I’m not sure. But it’s nice to hear there’s at least one clinician willing to say out loud what the manufacturer isn’t… :-/

  34. Help,

    I have an my first appointment with an allergist in two weeks, the secretary told me to stop Zyrtec, which I’m taking for 3+ years. I read your story, this is insane, I’ll talk with my doc first, any suggestions appreciated.

    Thanx,

    • If the allergist’s secretary told you to stop taking Zyrtec, it’s probably for a good reason — like they don’t want the medicine to skew any test results. I’d call back and confirm the WHY so that if you do have any side effects (like the awful itching so many of us have had), you’re getting a clinical opinion on how to cope. The suggestions here are based on what’s worked for the folks who posted, and what works for one person may not work for another. (Also–required caveat: I’m not a doctor!!)

      Good luck with your allergist appointment! I hope that weaning off Zyrtec doesn’t cause you any trouble!

  35. Just a quick update: still on 1/2 an Allegra per day to control the itch. When I take it later in the morning than usual, I notice the itch starting to come back, especially in my palms and my feet. Hard to cut those pills into 1/8ths! I’d like to continue to taper but for now skipping a day doesn’t look like a good option. Anyone else having any luck out there?

    • I wonder if you could do better getting a kids’ dose and cutting that? IIRC, they make smaller dose options for the younger set.

    • I’ve tried multiple times to ween off of Zyrtec and then Allegra. I am following advice found on another forum for sufferers.
      Taking Les Labs sinus and seasonal supplement, NAC Sustain, and 1000 mgs. of vitamin C. I also after tapering to a third of a tablet, switched to the liquid, so I can taper more finely. So far, so good . . .

  36. Im itching now over a week off of it. I thought it was my fabric softener. Going off for summer vacation and going to lick it. I refuse to be slave to a drug and I can handle the itch it’s just annoying.

  37. I have been searching and searching to see if I can find any recommendations on a way to kick Zyrtec but control the all over itching… My daughter (16) had to go off of Zyrtec for 3 days for allergy testing and she was a walking itch and hive machine… she had huge welts all over her body and ice packs, cold showers, fans, and cotton clothing was a joke to her.
    Well she made it through the allergy testing and had her Zyrtec and water sitting next to her waiting for the timer to go off. But I was determined to find something that we could use if we ever decided to wean her off of it.
    Realistically there are not many successful ways to get rid of the itching except time BUT… I came across a post from a fellow itcher and they were prescribed Prednisone for the 6 week itch period and said it worked like a charm. Now for those who are doing allergy testing… I am so sorry to say that it will interfere with the testing (that was a major bummer for us as well) but there is hope to kick the habit in the future without the painful withdrawals.

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