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Stopping Zyrtec Triggers Itch

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Q. I stopped Zyrtec about five days ago. I started itching all over after day three.
I wish I'd known about the withdrawal symptoms before I started taking Zyrtec four years ago! Can you tell me how long the itching lasts?

A. As far as we can tell there have been no studies of this phenomenon and therefore no definitive answer. Your dermatologist may consider a short course of a corticosteroid if the itching is completely unbearable.

Based on reports from visitors to our website, the itching may begin to fade after two weeks or so. We wish the FDA required drug companies to investigate withdrawal from a range of medications so people would know how to discontinue them safely.

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Could my receding gums be caused by the antihistamines that I take for my year-round allergies? I feel like I get dehydrated very easily, too. If this is the case, what can someone do about their allergies and not suffer from dehydration and gum recession? Thanks for your help.

I've had similar experience with both Zyrtec and Allegra. Itching started 2-3 days after stopping daily dosing, unfortunately I always assumed this was from allergies returning so I'd start back on the pills. It never occurred to me that it was withdrawal from the drug. Good information to know.

I wonder if phasing out the antihistamines would be less itchy than stopping cold Turkey. Perhaps something like skip a day, then skip 2 then 3, etc. Let the body get used to less help over a period of time.

I had the same issue. I took Zyrtec for about 4 years, to keep my hive break outs at bay. I kept trying to go off it and would have itching about 3 days later. My allergist told me to go back on it, which I would since I was fearful of a hive break out. I tried 2 times and the third time was the charm.

I've been off it since January with no repercussions. I never thought of it as a withdrawal and my allergist didn't mention it. I just thought the itching was a precursor to breaking out in hives again. Now I just use Zyrtec as needed for allergies, and never did find out why I kept breaking out with hives.

This concerns Claritin, a similar antihistamine. My experience with the withdrawal symptoms is with my cat. I learned from my cat's veterinarian that he suffered from headaches when he stopped taking Claritin. My poor little cat is highly allergic to all kinds of pollen and is taking Claritin. When I stopped giving it to her she started vomiting her food... thus the visit to the vet that gave me a clue about withdrawal symptoms. When I put her back on Claritin she stopped vomiting.

I had a terrible case of hives some years ago. It started after eating too many raw oysters for three days in a row. It was so bad I often had to put my feet & legs in a bucket of ice water to stop the itching. My doctor put me on cortisone, which stopped the hives. I hated having to take cortisone, so I tried to taper off, then the hives came back. Then I visited my daughter in Japan for a few weeks, one day I just stopped the cortisone, and no hives. My hives never came back.

I just heard a segment on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC, NYC's public radio FM station. I'd heard The People's Pharmacy on Wisconsin Public Radio when I was out in WI, but hadn't realized there was a web site (d-oh!). I'm not sure if there is a podcast or streaming audio available.

Just found this thread on Zyrtec and am so glad to find I am not alone. I have taken Zyrtec and its generics for years now, but back when it was prescription only, if I'd forget to refill on time I would get itching within a few days (can no longer recall exactly how many days, but it was very few). First, I would random get itches on my scalp, then my arms would being itching, and it would go on from there. I vaguely recall even getting hivish little bumps.

I haven't had that problem since it went generic OTC, but it is good to know it's the pill and not in my mind. It actually was ON my head... as a type of withdrawal symptom. When I was hospitalized recently, I had to tell the doctors I had to continue the Zyrtec generic or my burns would be getting itchy and maybe break into hives.

Claritin works for me only on outdoor pollens, so I never took it for any extended period. I take the Zyrtec at night, since I have a lot of post-nasal sludge during the night and it helps. I add Claritin if I'm going to be doing outdoor work during the warmer months. I found I had to add it when pruning my tall privet hedges, on a makeshift scaffolding of a wide board between two step ladders, and sneezing up there seemed to rock the whole set up. Clairtin meant I barely sneezed at all while doing that chore.

But, interesting that Claritin too, after extended use, can lead to this itching reaction.

I just read this information in your column and I was so glad to see that someone else has the same problem.

My allergist prescribed Zyrtec for my nasal allergies back when you needed a prescription and I have taken it each morning for the past 5 years.

If I run out and more than 2 days go by, the palms of my hands and soles of my feet begin itching...severely. I absolutely panic at the thought of not having it each morning because the itching is so awful. I cannot imagine enduring it if I had to try to wean off of it.

I had no idea that taking this for my allergies would lead me to need it to avoid itching!!

It has been 3 months and the itching is awful. I was on zyrtec for a year. I went to a
dermatologist yesterday and she said it is because I stopped the zyrtec and I should just go back on it. I don't think so, there should be a warning label on this medication as to how it can affect you when discontinued. I am now on lidocain hope it leaves soon.

Glad to know it's not only me. I've only been on Zyrtec for eight months. I wanted to stop taking it but when I stop, two days later my lips, hands and feet start itching. If I take 1/2 pill it helps. My doctor said to take 1/2 pill for two weeks and see if that works. Does anyone out there work for Zyrtec? Can you explain why this is happening? I'm concerned with what this is doing to my immune system. Do I dare take this medication again? Will it be worse next time? What is Zyrtec doing to the other parts of my body and different organs?

I have been itchy for the past few days and couldn't figure out why. I just stopped taking Claritin and thought that I could be itchy due to my allergies coming back worse. Now I think I am so uncomfortable because I stopped taking Claritin and am having some sort of withdrawal. I had no idea that there would be side affects after stopping this medication. Now I am wondering if I should go back on it just to get rid of this awful itch. Glad to see that I'm not the only one, but I wish they would inform us about weaning off this stuff. Makes me wonder what else it could be doing to our bodies.

I am allergic to pollens, dust, and many animals. In the past, I have only taken Zyrtec or Claritin as needed. However, I realized that in order for it to work the best, you must take it daily to build it up in your system. That being said, I've cut back on it since I get extremely dry nasal passages and sinuses during the winter and antihistamines exacerbate this problem.

Unfortunately, I'm right there with everyone else... I am EXTREMELY itchy. This is the 3rd time it has happened and I actually forgot this time and blamed my dog. I would strongly suggest to people that you only take these drugs as-needed instead of daily, unless your allergies are so severe that you would be miserable without them. Time for a benadryl...

How to stop the horrible itch from Zyrtec withdrawal.

I stopped the itch or calm it down. I started taking a natural antihistamine (Vitamin C) 2000 - 3000 mg per day. Itch at times, but no where near what it was like. The 1st 3 days off zyrtec were crazy. I took Nyquil and that stop the itch for about a day, until I started the Vitamin C. I'm on day 7 and I can bear the itch now. I don't know it this helped or not, but I started a probiotic as well. All natural antihistamines from now on. OMEG 3 is good also. If this post makes it on I will followup and let you all know my results. Cold turkey with Vitamin C. Just might work.

I took Zyrtec nightly for ten years. For the last five or six years, I have been tormented nightly with severe facial itching. Only in bed, only at night-I saw several specialists and they had no answer. I would itch the sides of my nose and eyelids until I thought my skin would peel off. I tried creams, salves, etc. No answer.I have been so sleep deprived. I also had severe constipation and dry eyes.

I recently looked at my Zyrtec and thought AHA! Today is day six of no Zyrtec. I am actually sleeping better. I have not woken up once with my face itching. The downside-I do itch on top of my head, soles of my feet, my thighs, esp. late in the day. I also get headaches. But I will get through this. And I am so angry that I was not told about this and amazed at the number of MD's that knew I took this and they also never said "could be your medicine". People think medications are pure gold. I took a pharmacology class recently which also opened my eyes to the harm that meds can do to us.

Wow! I believe I have found an answer. I have been taking generic Zyrtec for a couple months. I stopped taking it 3 or 4 days ago. Yesterday and today I have been driven crazy with an itchy scalp, arms, legs and jock area. It's been embarrassing really. I have considered many different reasons of why I itch to no avail. I thing I'm going to be good now.....Back on the meds. A Zyrtec a day keeps the itchies away!

Incredible!!! Just when I thought I was going crazy I see a lot of people going through the withdrawal symptoms of stopping Zyrtec. I have been using it for about 18 months now and I went three days without it and it was hell.

Today is the first day I am going to start to withdraw but will do it slowly as recommended by my doctor. She told me to start with 1/2 a pill for a couple of weeks, then going 1/4 for a couple of other weeks and then try going cold turkey as by then my body will be in such a small dose it may be easier to get rid of it. She told me also to use Vitamin C, Probiotics, Nettle Extract and since basically what is occuring is a skin inflamation to use motrin as it may help. Wish me luck!!!!

Definately I need to stop taking any of this medications. out of all the allergy pills this is the worst. I never had any withdrawls symptoms when I used allegra but would not go back to any of them unless it is a matter of life or death.

I have been off Zyrtec for six or seven weeks now. At first, the itching was awful Random itching-while shopping, the bottom of my foot would itch without relief, or just before bedtime, my back would itch and I would scratch until my skin turned bright red. But it became less often, and I got through it fine. I used lots of soothing lotions on my skin and took Tylenol at bedtime some nights. But I am off it after ten years and will not take any more antihistamines. Good luck to you!

And another thing that helped-drink extra water to flush it all out!

Good luck to all going off of zyrtec, I itched for 3 months after stopping this medication.

Did you tried any changes to your diet? Since zyrtec is an antihistamine it can inhibit an allergic reaction to a food or something as well, so I guess by eating as clean as possible it might help I think. I am in day 4 of no zyrtec and it has been crazy. I am using vitamin c, acidophilus and the help from the lord above. Also I have tried to keep myself busy and not think about it. Any other thing you might think will help. Have you used any anti itch cream?

Basically for how many weeks did you have to undergo the cruel itching? At last I decided to go cold turkey. Today I have completed day five. I have been using vitamin c, stinging nettle extract, and a good probiotic. I drink about 70 oz of water daily and have tried to maintain a clean diet. As a cream I used Sarna anti itch cream. Can you shed some hope?

I also used Gold Bond medicated anti-itch powder, mainly on my back, since that was where the itch would be really bad around bedtime. I even used it lightly on my face, but you don't want to breathe it in. Water, vitamin c, can't recall what else I used but one day I just realized that intense itch had stopped.

(I still itch on my face at night, which I can honestly say was never helped by Zyrtec.) I kept taking it because it helped me sleep for ten years (or so I thought!). I am sleeping fine. And the reason for the facial itch is still unknown.
And I do sneeze more but feel no need to take a drug for it.

Luis, I think it was about two or three weeks and it slowly got better after a week or so. Day five is good, if you have made it this far it does get better! It helped me to take Tylenol in the evening before bedtime too. Gold Bond powder and Calamine lotion, which is for poison ivy itch, helped too.

Thank you for all your feedback. Today is day six and it was the worst of all days. My biggest itch comes to the hands, my back and the back of head and neck. I will reply back in a couple of weeks and give an update.

I have been taking Zyrtec twice daily for about 1 1/2 years to keep hives under control. I have not taken it for 2 days now and this morning, I started sneezing and have sneezed ALL day long. When I got home from work, the first thing I did was grab my Zyrtec. Then I came to my computer and looked this up and found your page to be very helpful. I hope this works and if it does, the FDA may want to check this out and ALL the comments that have been posted here. Thank you so much. Proof enough for me !!

I had a similar reaction when stopping zyrtec to have allergy testing done a few years ago.. However, when the doctor tested me, it showed no allergies... We did this twice and eventually decided that I was allergic to the Augmentin that I has been taking for sinus infections. However, after more delving into this issue, and after suffering from really terrible stomach problems I went on a candida (yeast) cleanse. A systemic candida infection can cause that extreme itching. After doing the diet for a month which removes wheat, dairy, sugar, artificial sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc... My stomach got better almost immediately and so did the itching.

I believe the Zyrtec kept me from having the itching reaction from the candida.. I have experimented with this in the past as well and those are my beliefs on the situation.

I have gotten into bad eating habits again recently and I am planning to do a similar cleanse in a few weeks.. removing all the different possible food triggers and then I will slowly add them back to see what affects me.. I would love to get off my allergy meds and reflux meds if possible, but I know deep down I will have to give up foods that I like in order to do that.. I cut sugar, splenda and diet soda out of my diet last Wednesday after having severe stomach pain and indigestion. The pain went away after one day... and it had been going on for weeks.. Then I had 2 days of headaches that wouldn't go away from the withdrawal. It's pretty obvious my body is not happy with what I've been feeding it.

Maybe that is what is causing the horrible non stop itching I have had on my face for YEARS. It must be a food-at night only, after I lie down, and it wakes me from sleep. I scratch the sides of my face along my nose, feels like it is right on the bones of my face-very deep. Then the top of the nose and brows. I have played around with soaps, shampoos, detergents, pillows, etc. No answers.

And Zyrtec did nothing to stop it, that's why I finally got off it. Thanks for the information on diet!

How did you stop taking zyrtec? Cold turkey? I am currently down to 1/2 pill a day (5mg from 10mg). I am going to stay at 5mg for another week or two then drop to 1/4 pill a day for a week or two then every other day, then every third day, then done. Please let me know how you did it as the withdrawal symptoms are just as bad as the hives.


How did the withdrawal go? Where you able to stop taking the Zyrtec?


It took me about 5 weeks to really say I was completely out of the woods from the withdrawal effect of Zyrtec. There are natural histamines out there to help going cold turkey but most important watch what you eat. Your body may react to many things.

I have tried to quit zyrtec countless times but the itching is unbearable. It itches most when I am active; running and such. My biggest concern, however, is that I fear that I have created this dependency with my daughter. I took zyrtec during pregnancy and nursing. When I stopped nursing, she developed severe eczema. She tested negative to everything at the allergist's office. I fear that she has an over-reaction of histamine now. Now my allergist has her on zyrtec and the eczema is starting to go away.I am seeking help and answers and there is nothing out there for me! I am pregnant again and I don't want to do this to baby #2!

I know for me it was 3 months of torture. I still have scars on my arms from scratching so much. The thing that helped the most was a really hot shower than I applied Biofreeze and it seemed to calm it down. I wore long stockings on my arms at night so I wouldn't scratch open my arms. Don't know why more Drs. don't know about this. The Dermatologist was the one who confirmed what I was thinking was the cause of my itching.

I've had similar problems. After taking Zyrtec for 1 year and within 24 hours of stopping, I get Hives. I am cutting down my dosage to slowly get off of it. I've never had hives before taking Zyrtec. I am down to 2.5mg and it's been 6 weeks since I've cut down. I am still breaking out in hives at 24 hours if I don't take it. I am hoping this doesn't go much longer.

The zyrtec reactions from withdrawal happened to me last fall as I stopped it for two weeks for additional allergy testing. I was itching myself raw! My doctor immediately put me on prednisone and that controlled it within a few days. I will NEVER use zyrtec again. I went online and many people had the same reaction, and it has been presented to the Food and Drug Administration. They were so many complaints about coming off this drug. I researched other allergy medications, and there were not the same reactions at all.

If you read earlier posts, I was on it for many years. I got over the withdrawal itching and it is gone, gone, gone! And I know it's allergy season here in Illinois but not even tempted to use it again, will never use any thing similar again. Looking back, it never helped symptoms that much.

My doctor recommended Zyrtec for itching caused by a 2 week regime of antibiotics for a sinus infection. The good news is the infection is gone. The bad news is that I begin itching EVERYWHERE from my toes to my scalp every time I stop the Zyrtec. I went cold turkey for the past week week but today the itching was unbearable and I took a Benydryl. After reading the other posts I will add to my daily vitamin C and pray.


I had same problem: horrific itching every time I tried to stop Zyrtec. THIS IS WHAT FINALLY WORKED FOR ME: Started taking Claritin concurrent with Zyrtec, while slowly weaning myself off the Zyrtec. 3 days of taking both drugs simultaneously, then lowered Zyrtec to 3/4 of pill for 3 days, 1/2 of pill for three days, and so on, all while taking full dose of Claritin. Having the Claritin in my system seemed to help; no Zyrtec withdrawal itch at all.

Of course, I am not a doctor, and I do not know if it is advisable to take Claritin and Zyrtec simultaneously. Consult your medical professional. Like most people posting here, I thought I would be dependent on Zyrtec forever, since the withdrawal itching symptoms were so unbearable. Happy to have found a solution that worked for me.

I am off of zyrtec for 4 months now and would love to believe that this nightmare will some day end. I am still itching everyday and my scalp is the worst. Can you tell me when it stopped for you was it completely over. I do have days that are better than other days but have not had any days without itching and scalp pain and itching and hair loss. I am depressed over this. Please let me know how you are doing.

It will go away! Use calamine lotion, ice packs, Gold Bond powder, Ibuprofen.
Good luck to you-it does get better.

It took me 4 months and it was horrible. I used biofreeze on my arms which helped with my arms itching but I Still have scars on my arms from itching. The dermatologist I went to told me the itching was from going off Zyrtec. Good Luck

I have been off zyrtec for just over 4 months and I still itch like crazy, I have moments with no itching but It does not last long. Can you please let me know how long it took for you to fully recover, I was on it for over 3 years and I stopped cold turkey. I have not been myself since. The first few weeks are pure hell. I keep thinking maybe today will be the day I don't itch but it never seems to come. I read on here that It took one woman almost a year to fully recover. Its just unbelievable. I have filed complaints with the FDA and the Drug company. Can anyone tell me once they are over it is it all of a sudden you are free from the torture or is it on a very slow little by little process. good luck

Hi Dee
I am sorry you are going through that awful itch. I went through it for about 5 weeks and then it went away bit by bit. By month three I was fully recovered. I was out for about six month and feeling awesome with no signs. Ungratefuly I had to start using Allegra now due to serious allergies but would never use zyrtec again.

Now things that might help, watch your diet, what you eat I realized I was allergic to almonds when I stopped the zyrtec, so maintain a clean diet perhaps do not use dairy products for some weeks. Vitamin C, Urtica Urens, Stinging Nettle Extract and Olive extract did help me a lot. Gold bond cream was great and motrin because your nerve endings get very inflammated.

Again watch what you eat and most of all good luck. Only problem is that if you suffer from allergies you might want to try Claritin or Allegra but Claritin is less powerful.

I stopped taking Zyrtec this week. It’s been about five days. I noticed the itching getting intense on day three. That is when I realized that it was a withdrawal symptom of Zyrtec. Zyrtec worked great for my allergies. I tried several different allergy medications and Zyrtec was the only one that really worked for me. Maybe it’s just me, but I'm an adult and know what’s going on so I choose not to itch my skin.

I haven't itched my skin for 2.5 days now. And the "itchy" feeling has reduced significantly. Studies have shown that that the human mind, once triggered with an "idea/itchy" will continue that "idea" long after the actual symptoms have dissipated. So a lot of it is "mental". For me, I will be taking Zyrtec again. The Pros definitely out weight the Cons for me.

My 9 year old son had this same itching experience after being on daily Zyrtec for 4 months. Weaning off all antihistamines is the way to go. We switched first to Benadryl - only because it stays in your system for a shorter length of time, so easier to manage.

We did a week on one pill a day, then 3/4 for a week, 1/2 for a week, 1/4 for a week, and finally 1/8 for a week. At each stepdown there was itching but manageable ... He could not handle cold turkey. His allergist confirmed that the itching is a withdrawal reaction - the body's histamines have been suppressed so long that even a return to normal levels is problematic. (Many docs are unaware.) But we now don't know what to do in allergy season.

The occasional Benadryl seems okay, but it's tough when allergies are really bad. But do try the step down approach. It works.

I have been on zyrtec for nearly 6 years and just recently noticed this severe itching when off for more than 3 days. I just thought it was because my allergies were back. this itching is severe on my arms, scalp, and my bra line. I now know its withdrawal not allergies. I'm definitely going to try to wean myself off :(. This sucks because this itching is controlled with Zyrtec, its a catch 22.

I have left several previous posts. I have been off zyrtec for a little over 6 months now. I Don't understand why I am still itching and going through some pretty tough times with this withdrawal. I have moments that I feel almost normal and sure enough it returns. I have read so many posts from people going through the same thing and I am glad they are able to recover much quicker than I have. I take care of myself pretty good. Watch what I eat and noticed a huge difference when I do indulge in too many bad carbs or junk food the itching gets a lot worse. How many people out there have gone 6 months or longer recovering from this nightmare.

I just try to stay positive and healthy and pray I will get to be myself again someday.

Good luck, one day it will go away...I took it for 10 years and it has to clear your system. The Gold Bond powder helped, I even put it on my feet at night, I had intense itching on the bottoms of my feet. Very random. But it will get better!

Just a thought to everyone. You might be able to withdraw more easily if you use liquid cetirizine for children. It has a little dosing cup. It would be easier than trying to cut pills in half and quarters. Thanks for all this info because I now know not to take this medicine too often.

I have chronic scalp hives now for 9 years. Anyone with any suggestions for helping them or getting rid of them?

Hi Dee,
I believe that this is all caused by inflammation. Generalized inflammation. Try an anti-inflammatory diet. Worked for me and I lost weight too (without trying). Felt great. I also did acupuncture, had to stop as I am pregnant but the anti-inflammatory diet, if followed, saved me. Cleared up skin issues too like ezcema and acne (all of which were minor for me).
Good luck!!

Hi All - thanks so much - I thought I was allergic to my new mattress which I love! I mistakenly didn't add Zyrtec to my daily vitamins and meds and could not understand what was going on with all the itching - It was ridiculous! I might try a taper and if that doesn't work maybe adding the Claritin with the taper. This is such an extreme symptom I believe no warning about it is irresponsible. Onward!

There are people, such as myself, who are experiencing a really really bad time with the after effects.

I hope you do take the Zyrtec in the end. Best of luck with that.

I went through weeks of itching and it stopped. I have posted on here previously. It is now 14 months and I do NOT miss worthless Zyrtec. You just have to suffer with the itch of withdrawal, then you will wake up one day and realize it is gone. I take NOTHING now for allergies. I spent 10 years taking this stupid drug. If an allergy Dr. says "Oh you need it-no such thing as withdrawal," get up and leave. They are in bed with the pharmacy companies. Have a good night!

I have been off of Certerizine for 9 days and the itching is unbelievable. I have some hope that it might actually stop after two or three week mark, but it has been unbelievably uncomfortable. This drug needs to have a warning about withdrawal.

Thank God for the internet!! I am on day four of my second attempt to get off the children's oral Zyrtec. The first time I tried to go cold turkey a couple of months ago and it did not work and thought my symptoms had just returned. So over the past month I tapered it down to literally a drop.

I have been off it now for four days and I am getting hives all over me basically towards the end of the day. I am trying vitamin C, Quercitan, zinc and Magnesium supplements and using a lot of anti-itch creams. I do feel a clarity in my thinking and although the Zyrtec is non sedating, I felt a bit "off" on it.

I hate to be dependent on medicine and I want to get to the bottom of this inflammation. I feel taking the Zyrtec is masking a hidden problem with my health. I tested healthy for everything, but there has to be a reason for this as I never had anything like this before 6 months ago. I find the itching comes in waves and sometimes it feels unbearable and then it dissipates. I am toughing this out this time. Susan

It takes a while but this med does leave your system. It CAUSES intense itching and believe me, it will stop. There is likely nothing wrong with you,no "hidden" problem. When I was withdrawing from it, there was one day I was at the mall and I had to stop, take my sock and shoe off and scratch, itching was so intense. My feet never itched before and do not now. DO NOT LET an allergy MD tell you "See-it you're itching that means you NEED it" (Zyrtec). Ignorant. They need to listen to people. I took it 10 years, have been off it 16 months, and I am fine, including my digestive system once again functioning now that it's not all dried out!

Thank you for your response LP as it helps to know that I am not alone. It will be a week tomorrow and it seems a bit better each day. SF

I am currently on day 9 of zyrtec withdrawal. The itching and hives have been absolutely unbearable. Every bit of my body has been effected throughout the days after quitting zyrtec. Palms of hands, soles of feet, privates, scalp... you name it. I had no idea back in January of this year that Zyrtec withdrawal was causing the itching, so I took more Zyrtec. Then thankfully after reading websites like this I realized I was not alone. (thanks to all who have posted here). There really was not much by way of over the counter creams to help the itch. Sarna cream kind of helps.

For me extremely hot water on the site of the itch and hive helped some. By day 7 my symptoms were pretty extreme and I was in tears. I have really not been able to lead any kind of normal life for the past week. Additionally the agitation of the hives and itch and insomnia made me extremely irritable, moody, depressed. I have been through the recovery of two c-sections and wisdom teeth removal and the pain of this withdrawal has been the worst thing ever.

Yesterday a friend convinced me to go to acupuncture. Thank goodness. Just having ear points done helped calm my system. The accupuncturist also gave me some chinese herbs to combat the itching, hives and insomnia. I have seen some relief. I am going to continue going to accupuncture to get my body back in balance.

Other side effects I encountered - weight gain, sensitive skin while on zyrtec, and of course drowsiness. I am just starting to mildly feel better at day 9 of withdrawal. I am hoping that as many people have said that Day 15 is the day things start to really calm down. The days have gone by so very slowly.

Hi FM,
I just read your post and I have all the symptoms you do. Tomorrow will be three weeks off the Zyrtec and I am still getting random hives and deep tissue hives in my feet, fingers, lips, tongue. They hurt more than itch. I thought day 15 I was over all of it and had a few really good days in a row. For the past week, I may have had a virus complicating the withdrawal but my stomach and head have not been right. I even had a few episodes of feeling light headed and it scared me.

Over all..I can say the hives do not last long which is one improvement and can be controlled with Sarni Cream. I do have times during the day where I feel normal with no hives. But I can not say there has been two days in a row with no symptoms. Sometimes I get a "wave" of feeling awful and I am about to reach for the Benedryl, but I get through it.

I am upping my dose of Vitamin C and taking quercitin 2 times a day. I am reading the book "The Perfect Health Diet" and I am cutting out all grains for now and eating the healthiest I ever have in my life. I feel like this whole thing for me is a "gut" issue. Like there is a pathogen that has made it's home in my digestive tract. I plan on working very hard to get to the source of all of this as I took my initial dose of Zyrtec for hives 6 months ago and have never in my 64 years ever took an allergy medicine. Even with the Zyrtec I was taking the oral children's generic and I am still suffering withdrawal. No matter what, some inflammation is still present in my body and I do not want to cover it up with medicine. The problem is getting through your day and making plans and that is where it becomes a problem. I will continue to post my progress. Susan

Discontinued Zyrtec, not thinking there would be a problem. After day 5, I had the horrible itching all over my body plus insomnia. After 3 weeks of insomnia and lessened itching, I went back on it, thinking it was my allergies to my dogs causing this. I never attributed it to the pill. Now, I am fearful of going off it again because my insomnia lasted for too long.

Hi SF,
Thanks for your response. Now on day 11. Yesterday was interesting (day 10 cold turkey withdrawal). Very nauseated and lethargic all day. Hives, some. Went to bed, took TCM herbs (traditional chinese medicinals to sleep) and woke up three hours later...hives itching over entire body. I am up about 90 minutes a night itching. I am also taking .5 mg of Xanax to sleep. That helps a little. This is so debilitating and annoying, but I guess I'd rather suffer than take Zyrtec again. Sarna cream does help. I know the deep tissue hives on feet and hands are the worst for me. Running the hottest water I can stand on and off for 30 seconds at a time really helps. I too am drinking a ton of water. I don't know if any of the natural remedies work really...we have shocked our body coming off of this drug.

I think it's time for every person who sees their doctor, whether it is a general dr. or allergy dr. to tell them-that we do not buy this crap that "you are itching because you need the medication". I got so mad at my allergy doctor when he said this. Of course he's going to say this-they have a relationship with the drug companies. Pathetic. Frustrating that we have to figure these things out for ourselves. I will no longer pay for someone to tell me what I know IS NOT true.

Dear DJG, How are you doing now? any relief yet. I'm day 12 cold turkey, still itchy with hives :(

Don't give up, it gets better. It is a nasty withdrawal but good to have that stuff out of your system. I used Gold Bond powder, Ibuprofen at bedtime seemed to help itching and inflammation. Ice packs at bedtime to the back of my neck or wherever the worst itch was. I took it ten years, been off of it for over a year and do not need an allergy med at all. Good luck to you!

Day 24 off Zyrtec and I see that the hives on the exterior of my skin are definitely diminishing, but I still get the feeling of them under the skin and some mild Angiodema with my toes and finger tips. Lyn, thanks for your post a year later. I read that ibuprofen actually makes hives worse by blocking the enzyme controlling the histamine. I feel better initially on it too, but now I am afraid to take it again.

My bigger problem is that I must have very high levels of histamine and I am reacting to eating almost anything. It mostly happens out of the blue a couple of hours later or if I get tired. I get this wave of feeling weird come over me, my muscles ache and I get scared I might pass out or something. It becomes an anxiety attack. It passes usually within a half hour, but it ignites all the itching internally. That is what is typical of Histamine Intolerance and I actually got that symptom the first time I tried to go off the Zyrtec. The first day I was out to lunch with a friend and we were waiting for the check and then it hit me. So I have to eat very plain low histamine foods for now. I can not get over how bad this withdrawal was and I was on so little for only 5 months. Susan

I've had this issue before when I've run out of Zyrtec and it was excruciating. I'm going to try to get pregnant and absolutely do not want to be dependent on a med that causes this reaction! So a couple if months ago, I started to wean myself off. Cut the pills in half for a few weeks, then went down to a quarter pill, then alternated on and off a quarter pill. I've been upping vitamins as well, and filling in a Claritin every few days (I never had a problem with stopping Claritin, and I have seasonal allergies.) I'm a full week off Zyrtec and I haven't had the dreaded itch. I will NEVER again take Zyrtec.

So glad to come across all these posts online and realize what is happening. I have been on Zyrtec for 10+ years. I originally was put on them because I was experiencing hives/uticaria but did not have any other allergies. I experience the hives a few times and they told me to start taking this drug every day to prevent getting them.

Well, after years of taking these pills, I finally started questioning why I needed to take them every day. I went off of them for a few days to get allergy tested and when I went to the allergist he gave me a hard time and told me that people takes these pills their entire life, it's working so why am I trying to get off of them, etc. They first refused to test me for allergies but then finally did but only tested me for about 10 different allergens to which I was negative.

Those 5 days trying to get off the Zyrtec were the WORST of my life, I literally laid on the couch and scratched and got hives all over. And, I thought, wow I really can't live without this drug that's how bad my body is.

WELL obviously it's not, it's the drug or the withdrawal from the drug. Before I started taking this drug I didn't get random itching all over my body. So slowly but surely I've come to this point. I'm on day 5 of the Zyrtec withdrawal. For me, this time is a little different. I'm eating as clean as I possible can. I've realized that the initial hives could have possible been some sort of allergy to the food I was eating or drinking and now that has been covered up for 10+ years by this drug so just imagine how much damage has been done to my body.

The first two days were fine, day 3-today has been pretty bad. Today I have had some slight improvement. When I wake up I'm fine but then slowly but surely the itching will start and it is HORRIBLE. It seems to travel and I can itch in multiple places at once. The absolute worst is in places that you would never want to itch.

What I've realize is/how I'm coping:

- I'm drinking as much water as possible, when I drink lots of water it actually seems to help
- I'm 100% gluten free, dairy free, sugar free. I have an inkling that this is helping me so much more than the first time I did this. I've had some grains (rice and quinoa) but plan starting tomorrow to be grain and soy free and potentially nut free while I'm going through this.
- I started taking Vitamin C yesterday and it does seem to help
- Hot showers for me work much better than cold
- I've started dry skin brushing (in the morning and before I go to bed) and then applying coconut oil that I've whipped into a natural moisturizer so as not to put any chemicals on my already having a hard time skin
- I'm trying to juice in the mornings (all greens for breakfast) and then eat fruit until dinner. However, from what I can tell I have the least reaction when I eat cooked vegetables.
- When all else fails, I find that keeping all my skin covered (long pants and sweatshirts) and focusing on breathing normally even when I'm in excruciating itching can bring me back to some state of normal.

I hope some day that there is something done about this drug, at a minimum there should be some sort of disclaimer about the withdrawal effects. I wish when I was put on this drug that there was more information out there like these posts so that I would have never taken it in the first place.

Day 20 of Zyrtec withdrawal ! I finally slept a whole night without scratching! Tough it out you can do it !

Here's what I learned from Zyrtec withdrawal, one of the worst experiences of my entire 44 years:

- I was on off Zyrtec for about three/four months. When I stopped I got the itch and hives. First feet, scalp and hands. I didn't know what was going on with me for over a month. Finally through boards like this I realized it was Zyrtec withdrawal. I had the exact symptoms many of you were talking about.

- I decided to go cold turkey. My entire body itched. The deepest most awful itch that could not be quelled. A semi-stiff bristle hair brush was my best friend. I would scratch as hard as I could w/ out breaking my skin. This helped a little. Hives lasted 30 minutes at least, then would appear somewhere else. Some of the worst days I had hives and itchiness all over for hours at a time.

- Hot showers, or a blast of hot water to the hive for about 30 seconds really really helps. Do not burn yourself! Or place a hot moist cloth on the area.

- Sarna cream also helped somewhat.

- Nighttime was the worst. Not sure if it was part of the withdrawal or just the pressure of lying down.

- I did take the vitamin C, upped the multi vitamins, took probiotics, ate healthy. I'm not sure these helped the itch at all, but I figured since my body was going through hell that these alternative methods would at least help the healing process.

- Drinking lots of water did help a bit. I have been drinking about 70 oz of water per day throughout withdrawal.

- Acupuncture (at least ear points) helped on my very worst days, about day 9-11, where I would have unbearable hives in six or more places at once. I was able to relax, breathe and regroup for a moment.

- Traditional Chinese Herbs - Heavenly Emperor's formula at night helped me get some sleep. See an acupuncturist for dosage.

- I believe the withdrawal process (especially cold turkey ) is pretty hard on the body, acupuncture can help the body get back into balance, although it's not quick fix.

- The anticipation of the next round of hives and itch raised my anxiety levels, elevated my blood pressure and also made me quite depressed and short tempered. ( I feel so badly for my family ) Due to violent itching my husband has had to sleep in a different room this whole time. I had to tell my children daily, Mommy doesn't feel well, please leave me alone.

- Day 10 and 11 I was quite lethargic and very nauseated and of course itchy.

- Day 18-19 is when I started to see marked improvement in # of times I would breakout in hives. Maybe only 3-4 per day.

- I had many moments during the last three weeks that I cried, felt awful and wondered if I would get better, but I knew the Zyrtec did this to me and there was no turning back.

To all of you going through this wretched torture....there is light at the end of the tunnel! Don't give up! I will continue to post my withdrawal progress. Good luck.

Hi FM,
I pretty much followed your path in my Zyrtec withdrawal. It was horrible!!! I am off day 33 and the hives on the surface barely come up anymore yet I feel them underneath the skin at times so I still have some allergic pressure response going on. I certainly would not take anything for the hives at this point as I am no where as itchy and over the hump with that, but for three weeks I have been getting odd sensations as I mentioned on my above post of feeling horrible after eating ( histamine rises after digestion and in response to food ) I do not know what is worse!!! Horrible itching or feeling like you could pass out after eating... UGH So, I am getting tested for everything. Went to a Naturopathic doctor and he ordered blood work ( 22 vials!! ) and other tests that should reveal if I have any other health problem. I am glad I am off the Zyrtec, but I feel sickly now, and my digestive system is really screwed up. Will continue to post..Susan

Hi SF,

Not such a great afternoon here. Day 22. Bad hives. uuuugh. Thx for your reply post as I definitely get itchy after eating anything. great. When will this end. sigh. Really can not believe how badly this drug can screw up your body. I wonder if your digestive system will return to normal in a few more weeks? Wish you the best.

Today Day 34 was better and I am taking Vitamin C 2-4000 grams a day!! I am drinking tons of water. Vegetable juices. Taking a probiotic and digestive enzymes and Quercitin twice a day. I feel the inflammation going down but I do get minor flare ups of hives. I feel like I have a virus all the time with this withdrawal. I researched everything I could with mast cell disorder and high histamine. I am going to go the natural route, and working with my naturopathic doctor. I am avoiding all sugar and eating the most boring diet ever. Right now I just want to get healthy. Susan

From what I understand the Zyrtec is way out of our system, and what we're suffering from is a part of our autoimmune system out of whack. I am now Day 24, and I have random flare ups during the day but my evenings are the worst....usually from 8pm to about 11pm. Constant itch and hives, mostly legs...and face.

Day 36 and I finally had a decent day.

I woke up with some minor hives but they went away. I have done so much research on the internet about this withdrawal and high histamine that my eyes are so sore. It is truly incredible the rebound histamine effect I have endured with this withdrawal and the misery I have felt. I literally almost ended up in the ER a half a dozen times from feeling like my body was going into shock from the histamine after eating anything.

Today I feel I may have stabilized and might be on the histamine decline. I added a couple of new things. A teaspoon of olive oil a day but more importantly I am drinking Lily of the Valley Aloe Vera Juice ( inner fillet ) 4 oz a day now.

My horrible histamine gastric symptoms have decreased a lot. Also Aloe Vera Juice is supposed to kill off H-Pylori that I may have. I have always linked my Urticaria to my stomach from day one and is the reason I started Zyrtec.

When you have been on an antihistamine, it makes sense that you would have a rise in histamine when you stop and it is not pleasant with the many symptoms. I take Querciting 2 times a day and drink Nettle Leaf tea all day and take a lot of vitamin C.

I am going to try the natural route for now and hope I am successful. I am waiting for the results of a lot of tests I took last week and I will report in again. Hang in there everyone.

Let us know what you find out. I'm right behind you in days off Zyrtec. I too have bug eyes from trying to do research. I have had awful GERD symptoms while taking Zyrtec and during this withdrawal...and I never had GERD before Zyrtec. Sigh. I did read antihistamines can cause GERD. Fantastic. Wish I knew. Day 25 - Hives on legs, face, and back. Not too bad but itchy and somewhat bothersome. Drinking tons of water helps when I have a hive attack.

It is time the drug company puts a warning on the label of this drug, and time to let your allergy doctor know what really happens. As I said earlier,my doctor tried to say "That shows you NEED the Zyrtec"... when I told him what I went through for weeks after I stopped ten years of this drug. I have been off about 18 months and no allergy symptoms other than seasonal sneezing.

Let's all let doctors know how if affects us-print out these comments and send to them.

Conspiracy theory: Makers of Zyrtec know this reaction takes place after you stop using their product. To stop the itching you have to continue to use "THEIR" product. For me the itching is unbearable and not to mention embarrassing. I now take this "DRUG" daily.

I'm tired of itching. And I'm tired of taking Zyrtec. FDA needs to investigate.

I stopped taking zyrtec because I ran out and decided to try not taking it everyday. I am doing ok with my nasal allergies but the itching of my hands and feet especially is driving me crazy. When typing my question on I was so surprised that I did not have to finish and itch and zyrtec popped up before I finished typing. At least I have a reason, if only the itching would stop.

I was taking Zyrtec for 3 months for nasal allergies that were triggering asthma problems. When I stopped taking it 10 days ago the itching and hives began. Although it happens less often now, it still continues to be a problem.

On Day 11 of Zyrtec withdrawal and still miserable, scratching like crazy. My scalp, arms and legs are the worst. This is a true nightmare!! Does it ever get better??

I am also having trouble going off Zyrtec for allergy testing. I've had the awful itching before when I stopped taking it and went back on the drug, which was stupid. I never had the itching before the drug so why did I think I needed the drug to stop the itching? If I can get over this and I will, I will never take Zyrtec again. And yes it should definitely carry a warning about withdrawal.

I just found out about this withdraw symptom of itching on Sun. I have been to my allergist 3 times complaining of the itching and he seemed confused and not sure. I even had more allergy tests done to see if I was allergic to something else.

I have been off Zyrtec now for 5 days and today is the worst so far. Normally I only get the intense itching at night, but today I have had it all day. I can't imagine what it will be like tonight... actually scared.

My friend told me that it would take 3 weeks to get out of my system, but I am seeing that it has taken some of you longer...a month or more. Please let it be less!!!

I took benadryl last night to help with the itching, but I am not sure that it helped and I am not happy to be taking another med to cover up these withdraws.

I quit smoking 2 years ago and this is harder.

I have had the same reactions to Zyrtec and generic form. I also figured out that caffeine in excess really makes me itch. Even while taking the meds, I started waking up in the middle of the night itching. I cut caffeine out for 2 weeks and the itching stopped!

I am taking Zyrtec (cetirizine) from 10+ years and I never know that I got itching due to Zyrtec. I was told by doctor that I consume/eat the vegetable or food which is not suiting my body and that's why I have itching. But now I am in doubt whether to stop taking Zyrtec or not. Since If I am having itching with the food or dairy products than stopping Zyrtec might not help. I am not sure whether I am having any food allergy or not (Doctor just think this way). Please guide me if you same experiences.
I think I should try to avoid Zyrtec now.

Thank God I found this discussion.... I thought I was going insane.

I've been off Zyrtec for about 5 days in order to take an allergy test. I have been in absolute misery!!!!! I'm itching all over.... everything I touch makes my skin flare up. I've bee using hydrocortisone and Sarna cream to no avail.

After trading my comments, I've just taken some ibuprofen; hopefully that will decrease the inflammation. My allergist prescribed me prednisone, which has done nothing but give me headaches. This withdrawal is horrible... and to think I contemplated going back to Zyrtec after my allergy test is completed.

I believe my mind has permanently been changed. I hope everyone suffering finds some relief soon....

I can't believe this! I'm now really scared and angry at drug companies not warning about these effects. I have an 8 year old boy whose be itching for 2 months. His skin bleeds from it as he can't stop. Back of neck, scalp, legs, bottom, and he's been on Zyrtec for 3 months. I just made the decision to stop the medicine. But it doesn't sound like anyone itches while on it and this is all about withdrawal. I wonder what the poor kid will be in for now we are going off of it. So sad.

I have been taking zyrtec prescribed for me to help with post menopause hot flashes and I begun to gain weight so I decided to stop taking them two days ago now today I am itching like crazy.

I quit smoking a couple days ago and thought that was why I am itching so severely, I feel like it is going to draw blood. I was searching online and saw that zyrtec withdrawal causes major itching. WELL THAT EXPLAINS IT! I've been itching for the same amount of time I have been off the zyrtec. Craziness!!!! Now to figure out how to cope.....gah!!

I quit taking a zyrtec generic a few days ago because I ran out and decided to try and live without it since I was on it for the past 3 years. I never knew I was going to itch like crazy from stopping. I thought I must of got attacked by a million moskitos last night at my bonfire by the way I have been itching. I wrote down all possible changes for the past two days that could have triggered this and then searched to find an answer and found all these people that stopped taking it have experienced the same thing. Now I just hope it goes away. I only wished the doctor could have told me that this might happen. I don't really want to go back on it.

I am experiencing the same symptoms getting off Allegra. I am on day 17 and am still itchy and getting hives but it is improving. I make a homemade cream with 1/2 cup plain cream, like cetaphyl, and a bottle of eye drops for itchy eyes (must contain ketotafin or sodium cromalyn). The medications are mast cell stabilizers and help prevent mast cells from releasing histamine. Just rub it on the rash or hives and it will help calm it.

I also suggest following a low histamine diet as some foods are higher in histamine and some foods trigger histamine release. I got this info from the International Chronic Urticaria site. The most reliable low histamine diet info comes from a Canadian dietitian by the name of Janice Jonega Vickerstaff.

Good luck to everyone suffering from these symptoms.

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