an itchy man scratching his back

Q. I have had terrible trouble trying to stop taking Zyrtec (the generic is cetirizine). After using this antihistamine for about three years while having allergy shots, I first attempted to stop taking it in preparation for allergy testing. Within three days, my entire body itched. It was so horrible that I was crying and preparing to go to the hospital for relief.

Confused by the relentless itching, I forgot and took a Zyrtec by accident. Lo and behold, before I could get dressed and get in the car, my symptoms were GONE. Now, seven years later, I have tried unsuccessfully at least 10 times to quit this drug, and the reaction is more severe each time.

Today while I was researching this problem online, I found a community of thousands of people who have had the same problems I have. There should be better warnings about this withdrawal problem.

A. Cetirizine is often used to treat itching due to allergies, but the withdrawal phenomenon you and other patients have experienced is not included in the medical literature.
Please discuss this problem with a dermatologist. She might have a solution to weaning off this antihistamine, perhaps with a short course of corticosteroids.

Horrible Itching

People have tried a number of ways to overcome the chronic and nearly intolerable itching that may begin shortly after discontinuing cetirizine. Some people report that a gradual reduction in dose helps a bit and that after several weeks, the itching slowly recedes and eventually disappears.

Since this Q&A was first published, we have come back to the topic of cetirizine withdrawal several times. You may want to review this Q&A and this one. The official prescribing information still contains no indication of a problem occurring with sudden withdrawal of the drug.

Several people indicate from their own experience that if you can get through the first month, the itching disappears within six weeks of stopping the drug. Please share your story of getting off cetirizine in the section below.

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  1. peter

    Hello, I’ve just discovered this site after taking Zertek every other day for 14 years! And on the second day of not taking a tablet the itching begins. Reading here has now opened my eyes as to the cause of the problem.

    I took my last tablet 6 days ago and I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far but over a number of months now (for another reason) I have increased my mineral water, vitamin c and natural salt intake and maybe that’s helping to keep the itching within a tolerable level. I’m just going to take it day by day but I’m determined to kick this drug!
    I have also purchased this week a natural antihistamine that I’m hoping will help me come off zirtec…it’s called Quercetin 400mg + Bromelain 100mg Capsules. I’ll update everyone with my progress in a few days.

  2. Stephanie
    Los Angeles CA

    I too have had withdrawal symptoms from Zyrtec. In the past I have taken Zyrtec for seasonal allergies for a day or two maybe using a total of 4 pills a year. But, last year (November) out of the blue I had really bad itching.

    I took a Zyrtec to get rid of the itch and all was good. I took it for about a week or two straight but every time I would go off the itching would come back. I thought it was my soap – detergent – something I ate – something in the air. I really had no idea. With the holidays and things being so busy, I hoped it would go away… But it didn’t. Every few days I would wait for the pill to wear off so I could see if I was better and every time this intense itching would come back, worse than the last.

    Finally in January I went to the doctor. She said the same thing… Most likely environmental. She told me to take Zyrtec 2 times a day for a month and then see if the itching goes away. Well I didn’t follow her instructions and I’m glad about it now!! I only took 1 pill every other day. Why? Because by now I knew that by day 3 the itch would return.

    I knew something was wrong and I started thinking it was something major. The dr didn’t seem to be concerned So I googled the heck out of it. That’s when I came across this site! It all made sense. It like I didn’t know when the original itch stopped and the withdrawal itch started but because itching was my original problem, it made me think it was the same issue, not my medicine causing something new.

    I just knew I had to quit cold turkey. That lasted about 4 days. The 3rd day the itch kicked in and by the next day I thought I was going to die. I gave in and took a pill. It went like this for months. I would try to stop but I never made it very long. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. Like bugs under your skin and when you itched, it never fixed the problem. It only made it hurt and itch at the same time. I would get raised marks where I scratched and I looked like I got clawed by an animal.

    Finally I decided that what I was doing wasn’t working so I needed to try something else. I read that someone stepped down slowly so I thought I’d try that. On day 3 when I got itchy again instead of taking a whole pill, I took half. The itch went away. To my surprise I was still able to go almost 3 days again on that half pill and I forced myself to make it to the end of day 3 before giving in. I did this for a few weeks. Then I tried to go a little longer… 4 days then 5… Until I made it up to a week. All still on a half pill.

    Once I got to a week I waited another few weeks before doing the next phase: switching to Claritin. I began taking a half pill of Claritin which only got me through 3 days tops. It’s better for you than Zyrtec though so I did the process again until I was down to a half pill every week. Then I switched to a quarter pill. I was able to go about 5 or 6 days before the symptoms returned. Some weeks were better than others and some weeks I needed another quarter after 4 days. It was totally random. It was like my body didn’t know what to do.

    Finally I tried going off completely and if I began to itch I’d take a few crumbs of a pill – I did this maybe 3 or 4 times until I woke up yesterday wondering when the last time I took a pill was. I’m not exactly sure but I think it’s been about two or two and a half weeks!! I get some mild itching almost every night but nothing bad and I put peppermint and tee tree oil on it and it takes some of the itch out. When I wake up the itch isn’t there. I am keeping it up and hopefully the minimal itch will disappear and I can go back to normal. It’s been almost a full nightmare year but hang in there guys!! You can do this!

  3. Lisa

    Thanks for others sharing their experience on Zyrtec. I had the same experience of having difficult to get rid of Zyrtec. This is the worst drug I ever used. How could it be there without any warning!!!

    I was prescribed to use Zyrtec because of my food allergy. I had seafood allergy since I was a child but I had never used Zyrtec. This time the doctor somehow prescribe Zyrtec. My food allergy usually will be well in a few days to 2 weeks with other medicine such as Bendral. Now it’s been 4 weeks, every time I tried to stop it, the hive and itch were worse than my original food allergy. I am lucky in a way that I know something is abnormal this time so I started doing research tonight. If I haven’t found this website, I could have suffered this for years without know it is Zyrtec causing my problem. I will share the info with anyone I met. Hopefully together we can raise a louder voice about this drug. Now I need to figure out how to get rid of Zyrtec with less suffering.

  4. dsdf

    before i was diagnosed with dermatitis, back in 2014, i was suffering strange rashes which i thought were hives. so i went out and bought loratadine, tried for 2 days (caused too many side effects. constipation,drowsiness,vivid dreams), then i bought 14 pills of ceterizine(zyrtec) which was 6dollars, when i almost ran out, decided to buy diphenydramine, and fexofenadine(last one did nothing.

    At that time i did not connect the dots, but unknowngly stopping the short certerizine may have increased itching,of my dermatitis rashes which made my rashes worst. Sometime later in jan 2015, i had health scare(sudden loss of smell and development of widespread neuropathy went to the ER found nothing) this was taken with 1 pill of diphenhydramine, and non-drowsy medication(aceto,dextromorphin,phenyleprine).

    I completely stopped all antihistamines at that point, and some how my dermatitis stabalised and nasal allergies disappeared until the summer, in which case my dermatitis was flaring up, i then started taking fexofenadine, but had no effect. I then spent 20 dollars on a 70 ceterizine pills, still uknown to me, my dermatitis worsened, itching was so intense, i scratched til it bled, and became bruised skin,i still did not correlate ceterizine was the cause. Until this year, when i ran out of ceterizine(70pills) and i was already takinig daily diphenhydramine(which helps fight itching) my scalp and torso started to itch so intensely, it gave me more dermatitis rashes. i stupidly decided to order a whole years supply for less than 20dollars of ceterizine, and have been taking it to combat my nasal allergies and regular itching.

    Ever since i stopped it a few weeks ago, my itching and rashes returned with a vengeance at the same time my dermatitis decided to flare up. So it would seem ceterizine withdrawal itching is a reality. Also i noticed if you are taking daily ceterizine, it will make build tolerance to other antihistamines, making them very ineffective, so be warned. ceterizine in my opinion should be used sparingly, rotating between different anti-histamines each few weeks, not good if you something like chronic allergies, that trigggers any kind dermatitis. Best medication for short term are drowsy pills benadryl and chloropheneramine.

    I was prescribed a strong corticosteroids for my rashes, it did little but delay the rashes from dermatitis, which almost always come back worst. best way to treat it is with allergy relief lotions(pricey), and some moisturizers. Do no take ceterizine, because it intensifies itching, only 1st generations antihistamines are powerful enough to combat itching from non-hives.
    right now suffering from several weeks of itching withdrawal which has several affected my damaged skin, from dermatitis.

  5. Nikki

    Itching to death!!! I tried to come off this medication a few months ago with no luck. I had severe withdrawls from stopping the medicine cold turkey. Went back on the medication 5mg per day till I split the 5mg tablet in half and took 1/2 each day till last Sunday. Stopped all together buy, slowly I’m having new symptoms arise daily. I started taking Zyrtec daily but, I’m beginning to loose my voice, itching all over, skin is crawling, I’m burning up from the inside, red rash all over my chest, feels like bugs are crawling all over me, red itchy eyes, sneezing, watery eyes, you name it is have it right now!!! I would never recommend anyone taking this. I refuse to take it even again. Even if I itch myself to death!!

  6. JDB
    New Zealand

    Oh my goodness. Thank you!
    I started itching 3.5 days ago and have been scratching (haha) my head trying to think what I ate, what I put on my skin . . . was it the oil my masseuse used on my four days before the itch started . . . am I all of a sudden allergic to my cat?

    I’ve just stumbled across all these many links about Zyrtec withdrawals. I take ‘Zetop’ which has the same ingredients but ran out of it last week.

    Now I must make the choice. Continue with the itch and hope it eventually stops or keep up with the pills . . . I really don’t want to be reliant on drugs but dear lord the itch is awful!

    Will talk to the Dr this arvo.

  7. Fiona

    Oh dear….I can’t believe that immunologists continue to prescribe this drug. (Anyone notice that they sell them in packs of 70 now!) I have been taking Zyrtec for over fourteen years. I cut back to a quarter a day 8 years ago when pregnant with my daughter as was concerned it would harm my baby. i was unable to come off it because the withdrawal symptoms were so bad. Symptoms were nausea, intense dizziness, light headedness and crazy itching and huge angiodemic hives. I really want to come off them now as believe they are a contributing factor to fatigue….and tinnitus. I feel dismayed though there don’t appear to be many solutions here. i will post if I find any…I do remember getting some acupuncture once and that did relieve my symptoms. I will also read the blogpost Itchyanna

  8. Susie

    Oh my gosh! I know this thread is old but I Hv been suffering from itching for months and thank God I stumbled upon these 2010 postings. I’ve been to Dr’s for this cuz I’m rubbing myself raw. They’ve put me on creams, antibiotics, etc. It just occurred to me tonight when I took a half Zyrtec FOR itching, Gee could it be from the Zyrtec? Dear God, now I know. I itch as I sit here texting! Now all I Hv to do is get the heck off it somehow!

    • Susie

      I also wanted to say, Susie in PA again, I have had two weird episodes I have been doctoring for. One time I was sitting at the movies. All of a sudden I had creepy crawly feeling starting at my knees, then up my thighs, I got hit, shaky, blurry . I had to quickly leave the movies. I net home and didn’t feel good for 2 hrs. Second time, I was sitting at table after eating leaning up against wall and felt same sensation up my back, I just had blood work, normal. My PCP did a 3D echo with contrast. That was fine.
      Anyone Hv these symptoms? Maybe that was a day ir two I didn’t take a Xyrtec and was going through withdrawal. OMG I can’t believe this! Here U’m doctoring and it’s probably this damn Zyrtec!!!! Anyone with these symptoms or had them please let me know. I am flabbergasted. I can’t believe this nor the fact that I found this site.

      • JDB
        New Zealand

        I’ve had that, or something like it. Have been on my hayfever meds for a few years now but they recently ran out and I’ve been too busy to get more.

        Lo and behold the itching started. It’s only been 3.5 days and I’m ready to rip my skin off!
        Plus over the last year I’ve had what I call ‘panic attacks’. Not sure if it’s due to the meds or not but it’s much like your description ‘shaky, blurry’ but also fast heart rate, panicky, a need to ‘get out’.

        Dya think it could be the meds to? I take Zetop.

          • loop

            its zyrtec, thats the brand name, in other countries, its called a different name, and its generic.

  9. Les

    I am a 47 year old woman. About 18 years ago I moved to an area of the U.S. with high seasonal allergy issues which greatly affected me at least 6 months out of the year. My doctor prescribed Zyrtec and Flonase. This was back when both were prescription only. I was told to take Flonase in the spring, but to take 1 zyrtec (10mg) everyday , year round.
    So I have been on Zyrtec for at least 10 years.

    Because of weight gain and brain fog I decided to stop the Zyrtec and learn to live with my allergies. Little did I know what a nightmare it would be to stop this drug from Hell.

    I stopped (cold turkey) zyrtec on March 14, 2016. The intense itching started around day 3. Itching everywhere. Scalp, underarms, inside ears, arms, legs, back….everywhere.
    It seemed to lighten up after week 2, but then came back intensely during week 4.
    It is now week 5 and the itching is at about 90% where it was in week 1.

    This really sucks. But I am determined to ride it out. I will NEVER go back on the ZYRTEC POISON.
    I know the medicine is out of my system by now. What I believe is the antihistamine effect has thrown my body out of whack. My body , after taking zyrtec for 10 years, doesn’t know how to handle histamine at all.
    The question is: is my body ever going to be capable of handling histamine normally, or will I suffer from this effect for years or forever???????

    I am noticing that almost all posts on here are in the time frame of the first 1 to 4 weeks of stopping zyrtec. I am hoping this means past say 4 to 8 weeks at most, most people have minimal to no noticeable itching.???
    I wish more people would come back on here and post a follow-up. When and if the itching stopped. This would greatly help those of us suffering from the itching right now.

    On a side note: my husband was on zyrtec for about 2 years. He stopped (cold turkey) on March 14, 2016. Same as I. His itching was intense for 2 weeks, but has subsided to about 20% now 4 weeks later.
    Maybe the length of withdrawal itching is related to how long you took the drug?
    I will tough this out. Again I state..I will NEVER take ZYRTEC again.
    Everyone…PLEASE report when and if the itching stopped. It would help all of us.

    • Ania

      Hello again. It’s been almost two months since I took my last zyrtec. I wrote few posts ago. I have to tell you, that probably thanks to DAO enzyme i went through this surprisingly well, especially when I recall previous incidents. I took DAO for about 10 days. After that I decided to try without it. And I never took it again. I still have ocasional itching from time to time, but I can stand it easilly. There are days completely free of any symptoms. In my previous posts there is more detailed information. You could try this method to alleviate this horror. I do not know if it can help other people. I never heard or read about anybody trying this for zyrtec withdrawal symptoms, only for histamine intolerance. I just inferred it myself and decided to give it a try with a great success.

  10. Kathy

    Reactine is the worst pill to try to come clean of. I have been on prescription strength 20mg since it came out. My insurance provider stopped paying for the 10 mg when it came out over the counter….so if I wanted it without the cost I had to get the prescription strength 20mg. I have been over 20 years a Reactine/cetirizine junkie. The side effects trying to get off of it are horrible to say the least. Unbearable itching,burning,welts,hives. I have been 7 days without now and am still having terrible itching. I get the itch all over…but the worst for me is on my hands and feet. The allergy specialist told me I would have to take it forever due to the itch. I refuse to be held prisoner to this drug. I have read that vitamin C,A ,and E can help….I also just started that with Benadryl cream when the itch is unbearable.

    I am writing to tell people not to take this drug for allergies. Your allergies are your least problem in comparison to the withdrawal symtoms you encounter. STAY CLEAR of it!

  11. Amy

    I got off Zyrtec after taking it every day for ten years. I have done it a few times before, but only when I switched to Claritin. I probably should have switched to Claritin this time, and then weaned off the Claritin. I’m sure that would have been better. This time, I skipped a day of Zyrtec, then took half a Zyrtec and then skipped a day, and then I took half a Zyrtec for a few days as the itching was pretty bad. I wasn’t alarmed because I had read about this problem with Zyrtec withdrawal. I thought about taking Claritin, but I needed to get off long acting antihistamines. So I started taking a Benadryl at night, when the itching was usually it’s worst. It’s normal for itching to be much worse at night. This is due to the body’s cortisol rhythm. Cortisol rises in the morning, eases in the afternoon, and has a little rise again toward evening and then drops off in the evening so you can sleep. Except with all that itching, who can sleep? The Benadryl worked amazingly well with the evening itching, and it also makes you drowsy so it really helps at night. I found that only needed 12.5mg, which is one quarter of the adult dose – half of one tablet. I took the Benadryl at night for a week, and then stopped. It’s been a month since stopping the Zyrtec completely. The itching is still there a little bit. I’m not sure if it’s normal to still have some itching this long after stopping. It’s MUCH better than it was. I only have itching on my hands now, and only notice it two or three times in the evenings. It seems to happen when I use my hands for some rough task, and the skin gets activated by the contact. If I put lotion on and don’t scratch, it goes away.

  12. Ania

    I forgot to add that I am also on a quite strict diet. I eat vegatables, some fruits, meat, eggs and fish, coconut oil and olive oil. No grains, no dairy no legumes. I am not sure if it helps, since I’ve been on this diet for a long time, and in the past when I forgot Zyrtec, the reaction was almost immediate and very severe, despite the clean way of eatting.

  13. Ania

    I was on Zyrtec for about 15 years, maybe more. I started taking it due to hives and I thought would be sentenced to it till the rest of my life. Whenever I forgot a pill, a terrible bout of hives appeared. I thought it was my primary allergy, so took another pill and everything was back to normal within a half an hour.

    I had only one 10 days break, since I went to hospital for diagnosis. This was the worst time of my life. I had terribly itching hives most of the day. I scratched myself till bleeding. Of course they didn’t find the reason and sent me back home and told to carry on with zyrtec. Then I thought that perhaps I am just histamine intolerant and started digging in the subject.

    This is how I found this thread and also many, many more. I realized that my hives might be the side effect of withdrawal. May primary hives were completely different, and never so acute and permanent. As far as I know antihistamines block the receptors, so the brain cannot see the histamine in the system and make mast-cells to produce even more.

    I believe that after some time mast-cells become hyper-reactive, so when you stop zyrtec, the symptoms occur almost immediately. There is just way too much histamine to be broken out. So I inferred that perhaps I may need more DAO enzyme in my system to get rid of excess histamine. A week ago I took my last dose of Zyrtec, a half of pill and started taking DAOsin. I can hardly believe it, but I can function quite well. I do have some really slight itching occasionally, but I can stand not touching it, and it goes away within few minutes.

    I hope I will be able to stop DAO ofter some time. I take 4 -6 capsules a day. Also at the same time I started taking Vit B injections twice a week. It may help also, since it calms down the whole nervous system. I cannot tell, which one helps more, maybe they act synergistically, but I am doing almost normally. My sleep improved tremendously, I am not brain-fogged in the mornings, no puffiness on my face and more energetic during the day.

    I still fear that the symptoms can occur in their full “beauty”, but I hope it won’t be tha case. Perhaps my experience might be helpful to some of you, I’ve been there, and I know how miserable the life is without Zyrtec once you get used to it. If something changes, I will update. Good luck to you all.

  14. Ron C
    Monterey, CA

    It is somewhat of a relief to have found this Website. Several months ago I began developing a strange case of hives that was determined to have resulted from a reaction to high doses of Aspirin. I had been through two knee replacements and wanting to get off of the Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen I began taking just two of the 500 mg super aspirin, from a well known manufacturer, when the pain became too much. After a few weeks of this I experienced the first episode of hives.

    A visit to the doctor resulted in a prescription for Levocetirizine and Prednisone . This combo did stop the hives, however, once they were gone and I stopped taking them within three to four days the rash and itching began. Palms were first and then the rash began spreading over the upper part of my body. After many applications of Cortisone 10, which was about the only thing to stop the itching for a few hours, I had a scheduled appointment with a dermatologist. I mentioned that I had looked for side effects from Levocetirizine and found that what I was going through was indicated in several articles I had read. It didn’t really seem to register with him but after seeing the rash he said it sure was hives and suggested taking Zyrtec, 10mg, in the mornings and Benadryl before bedtime. This did, of course, stop the hives and itching, however when I stop taking the Zyrtec the itching begins again withing three to four days! I can totally empathize with the people here going through this withdrawal. Unfortunately I don’t have any solutions since my case is more recent but I am going to continue looking for results. Systematic reduction of the Zyrtec seems to be a good way to start and including Vitamin C might help also.

  15. Sarah

    Holy crap! My entire body has been itching like CRAZY today and thought it might be allergies because I ran out of my generic Zyrtec. I’ve only been on it about 3 months. Now I’m starting to think its withdrawal from the medication! I don’t think I’m going to pick up my refill!

  16. Drew

    Same symptoms as most everyone else. Used Claritan D for years, no issue when I needed to stop for testing or end of allergy season. A doctor recommended that I switch to Zyrtec to see if it worked any better. Been on Z for a couple of years, and decided to reduce the amount of medicines I took. The itching and scratching was insane. Tried multiple times to stop Zyrtec cold turkey, not possible. I stepped down the dose over a period of about 7 weeks. Still had some itching here and there, but was able to manage it fairly well. During the last couple of weeks I took maybe an 1/8 of a pill every few days, then less and less. The last “dose” was a little of crushed dust from where I was cutting the pills. Multiple ENTs and Allergy docs I have spoken to play completely dumb or are ignorant to Zyrtec withdrawal . I will never be taking this med again.

  17. Jo
    Houston, Texas

    After taking Zyrtec for several years, I stopped and experienced a week of itching and hallucinogenic dreams. I could bear the itching, but the freaky dreams were awful. I dreaded going to sleep at night. It must be what the “DTs” are like, and I never want to go thru that again.

  18. Josh
    Kansas City, MO

    I have tried to stop taking cetirizine for over a year. I went to my allergist and asked if cetirizine could be the issue but he said it has to be something else and told me to take that every night and Claritin every morning until my hives and itching was gone for 3 months. Then he said I could try again to stop taking it. What dumb advice. I did this for 2 months and then tried to stop taking it again, after 1 day I started getting hives again.

    It isn’t something I had symptoms of prior to taking it. I had seasonal allergies. If I had known I could become dependent on it and have horrible hives all over my body as well as itching bottoms of my feet I would never had taken a single pill.

    I have been off of it for 8 days and in that time I have only been able to get relief with benadryl which I try to only take a half dose when symptoms get unbearable. I am also taking a Quercetin blend and don’t know if they are helping at all. Hope this gets out of my system soon, I have never had itching this bad on the bottom of my feet. It almost hurts.

  19. Jo
    The Netherlands

    Every time I quit taking cetirizine my hand palms start to not only itch but really burn. I’ve spent nights holding anything frozen just to find some reliëf. In addition my whole skin itches (foot soles!) and I get rashes, mainly in my neck, behind ears, and on my arms. But when on cetirizine I feel more and more drowsy, have trouble concentrating, and a constantly dry mouth. So, we’ll see what happens when tree pollen start hitting the air again. Hope that by changing my diet I can stay off anti-histamine. Good luck all!

  20. Vijay
    Mumbai, India

    I am on Cetrizene (5mg) since 4 years (I am 48). I started on it because of an itching bout. I have to have a pill every 4 days. On the 3rd-4th day itching starts usually at the wrists and ankles gradually coming over everywhere I touch. After the pill the itching stops within hours. Yet there have been times when I have gone without the pill for 2-3 weeks without the itching symptoms showing up. I have never taken a pill unless the itching sensations start – everytime I take one I feel this would be the last time before the symptoms disappear.
    The longest I was without the pill (and without itching) was 7 weeks in June-July last year (2015). Such periods have been infrequent – 5 times in 4 years. Then suddenly I started to itch again and have to start taking centrizene every 4 days.
    During the no pill-no itch period I am sure there has been no significant change in my diet or other medications. Sugar is normal – Blood pressure is normal – Slightly underfunctioning liver. I have been wondering what changed in me or my diet for those periods that I dont have to take the pill. So what is going on here.? Do any of you’all have these no pill-no itch periods? Any enlightenment would be appreciated.

  21. Heidi

    I am devastated that this is what is happening to me….and after bloodwork, internists. Etc etc…. No one had figured this out. Now what do I do? If I stop taking it, within hours, I am itching nonstop. Please, if someone has an answer, share it with me.

  22. Carolyn

    I agree with everyone who has written so far. Horrible medicine I was prescribed it and after a few days I started itching horribly. I am still itching but have not taken Zyrtec for about 10 days. Hope it stops soon.

  23. Jim
    North Carolina

    I have been suffering with intense itching (without irritation or inflammation) for the last several months, I’ve discussed the issue with several doctors (e.g., PCP, dermatologist, psychiatrist, and gastroenterologist). I switched to hypoallergenic everything, and the only thing that helped the itch was taking Zyrtec. During that time I’ve also experienced worse drowsiness, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and inability to focus then ever before in my life. Last night I was looking to buy more Zyrtec on Amazon and a reviewer perfectly described my symptoms after he discontinued use. Then I began researching the issue and came across hundreds of testimonials describing the same thing. I’ve decide to try quitting cold turkey. I’ve contacted my PCP and dermatologist to their opinions, but I can’t justify taking another dose. I’m angry at the manufacturers and the FDA for not do anything, but I’m so thankful for all of you who have shared your experience.

    It’s been 60+ hours since my last Zyrtec, and I feel exhausted, itchy, and unable to concentrate. I hope the symptoms get better (I will update here).

  24. Nancy
    Manasquan NJ

    I have been taking zyrtec for over a year after the allergist recommended it for an allergic reaction to antibiotics. I have weaned off to the point of taking 1/2 of a pill every 3 days. By the end of the third day, I can feel the itching slowly overtaking me – I feel it in my tongue, my ears, my hands – anywhere.

  25. Lindsay
    North Yorkshire UK

    I have been on Cetirizine for more years than I can remember. I suffered terribly with Hay-fever. As a teenager (I am now 36) I went to my GP who stated that they recently come back from a seminar where they were told that Cetirizine tablets could be taken in 3’s for bad cases of Hay-fever without any negative side effects.

    As I was told this information by my GP I had no reason to question it and have been taking between 1 to 3 tablets a day. I never realised the extreme itching I experienced when I forgot to take a tablet had anything to do with the tablet itself. I even went to the doctors last year and said to them that when I stopped taking the tablets I itched so unbearably and came out in lumps.

    The doctor prescribed me some aquacaous cream and told me to keep taking the tablets. It wasn’t until a few nights ago when I was in bed and the itching started and I realised I’d missed a tablet that day that I thought to google it. Now I am fuming. I feel like an antihistamine junkie!!!

    I so want to come off these tablets. The itching for me is that bad I can not last more than 10 minutes when its starts. I try not to scratch but sometimes you do it with out thinking and once you start you cant stop. I haven’t taken a tablet today. I have inside got some other antihistamines for when the itching starts. I hoping they will keep the itching at bay so I can come off the Cetirizine. However I don’t want to actually take any medication at all. Whilst typing this I can feel the pin prick itching starting in a number of places. If this method doesn’t work I’ll try the weaning method. I am determined to get off these tablets. Wish me luck.

  26. Ruth

    Was told to stop taking cetirizine because I have restless legs syndrome and was given a Beconase for my allergic rhinitus. Within 4 days I had a terrible itching that is worse in the morning but goes on all day. Night are fine. In the morning it is in legs and arms but in the evening it spreads to face and head.

  27. Basil

    I have been taking Cetirizine (generic brand from London Drugs) for approx 2 years. Initially the doctor prescribed me this because I had itchy eyes and runny nose, and I thought I had allergies.

    So I started taking this and it didn’t really help but those allergies or whatever they were stopped on their own. When I tried to not take this pill I got “EXTREME” itch all over my body in multiple spots at the same time. Everyone around me would notice that I cannot stop itching and my skin gets red and bumpy. I thought that I had some extreme allergies and that I would need to take this pill forever.

    I went to several doctors, and all of them told me to just keep taking it if it works stops the itch. Some said it was my soap or detergent or that I should apply some cream to the area. I immediately said no to that because the itch is internal, and it isn’t in a specific spot. It is just triggered, and once I scratch, I can’t stop.

    Nobody knew what I was talking about and had never seen a patient like me. I went to the allergist and found out I have zero allergies. I was more confused. Then I went for a blood test, and they told me that the cause of the itch is that my Vitamin D level is low. So I started taking Vitamin D pills regularly, and now my Vitamin D level is normal.

    I still itch any time I stop taking these pills. One day, thinking to myself, I realized that the solution to the itch might just be the actual PROBLEM of the itch in the first place. Then I looked it up, and turns out many people had already gone through this. Now I don’t know what to do.

    It is literally impossible to stop because 3 days after not taking the pill the itch is so extreme that I can’t sleep at night. The longest I can go is 6 days, and in those 6 days I lose a lot of sleep. There has to be another solution. I tried reducing the dosage of the pill and it doesn’t seem to work for me. I am wondering if there is an alternate (itch relieving) pill I can take for a couple of months until Cetirizine is out of my system. Once it’s gone then I can stop taking the other pill as well.

  28. Becky

    I too have suffered from Zyrtec withdrawls. After 3 days of being off the drug, at any given time, I itch all over my body, and little bumps appear. I have an allergy test next week and I was supposed to be free of any antihistamine’s for one solid week. I couldn’t do it. I will make sure to tell my allergy doctor of this weird withdrawl. Quite frightning.

  29. Karen
    New York

    While I was researching Zyrtec for my children I came upon these stories of people with horrible itching after stopping this drug. I take Zyrtec every morning for hay fever allergies. Once in a while I would forget to take it and within hours would experience horrible itching everywhere on my body. Then I would remember that I forgot to take my Zyrtec and the next morning would take it and be fine. Then one day I thought to myself, it’s weird that everytime I don’t take it I itch like crazy, what was I covering up by taking Zyrtec everyday? I was afraid that maybe I had an underlying condition that I was ignoring. And now I read that this is a common phenomenon among people who stop taking Zyrtec. I’m appalled and a little anxious about this. After reading this I want to stop Zyrtec, but now I’m afraid to! The itching is so intense, and everywhere on the body it’s horrific! I’m not sure what to do now. And I must say that I am very angry that the company who makes Zyrtec and the FDA seem to want to sweep this all under the rug and ignore the concerns of thousands of people. They always list every possible side affect of a drug, even those that have a one in a million chance of happening, why not mention this “little” affect? Thank you for trying to enhance awareness of this affect. I never would have put it together on my own. Good luck to all those who are suffering with this.

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