The People's Perspective on Medicine

Intense Itching From Stopping Zyrtec (Cetirizine) Suddenly

Q. “I took Allegra for years, and then switched to Zyrtec (cetirizine) about seven years ago. Over the years, when I tried to stop Zyrtec, I experienced intense itching EVERYWHERE — feet, palms of hands, inside ears, throat, private areas, scalp, legs, arms, under arms — no place was immune.

I finally found this website about six months ago when there was a news article in the paper about withdrawal, and I googled “Zyrtec withdrawal”.

I have been weaning myself for six months and am almost completely Zyrtec free. I couldn’t do the cold turkey because it was publicly embarrassing. Itching would begin at hour 23 without the antihistamine in my system. I began trying to hold off as long as I could on taking the next pill. Finally got to 36 hours, then 48, 72 hours and am now up to 4.5 days between pills.

I do notice my asthma (which had disappeared for years) is recurring more often, but if it gets really bad, I take 5mg of Claritin with my inhaler and all symptoms disappear. I think I’ll be Zyrtec free within the next 30 days, and believe me, I will never take an antihistamine on a regular basis ever again!

A. You are among hundreds of other visitors to our website who have reported terrible itching or hives upon sudden discontinuation of cetirizine (Zyrtec) or other oral antihistamines. There is nothing in the medical literature nor in the FDA-sanctioned official labeling about this.

Although we have brought cetirizine withdrawal symptoms to the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, we have not received any recognition of the phenomenon nor any interest in following up with any of the people who have reported this reaction. It is almost as if the FDA would prefer this issue disappeared. The FDA executives who were notified seem to be treading water on this problem, hoping that it will sink without a trace.”

We are including a few more stories below and welcome others to share their own experience in the comment section below. Many people have also shared their success stories about getting off Zyrtec. It may differ for each individual, but many of the stories are compelling. Here are some links:

Itching from Cetirizine Withdrawal

Cetirizine (Zyrtec) Withdrawal & Unbearable Itching

Zyrtec Withdrawal Is a Nightmare

Stopping Zyrtec Triggers Itch

Anyone who would like to learn more about other ways of dealing with allergy symptoms may find our comprehensive chapter on allergy treatment in Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy of great value.


“Hello. I’m from Portugal and for the last 10 years I have been addicted to Cetirizine (Zyrtec’s generic name) due to the itchy withdrawal effects.
 The itching I’ve been subjected to is unbearable, UNBEARABLE!

“Several times I tried to stop taking Cetirizine but I just couldn’t handle the horrible skin itching that seemed to get into my bones and burn my skin so eventually I had to take the pill again. For those who could overcome the addiction – you are my heroes!!

“I will write to the makers of Zyrtec and FDA to show my revolt as for the lack of listing the itching as a secondary effect and also to ask them for a solution to our problem. I beg all of you to do the same.” J.P.

“I was taking Zyrtec for about a year for allergies. I stopped taking it because…well, because it wasn’t working. Two days after my last Zyrtec dose, I started itching everywhere (really, everywhere! Even my earlobes itched). By the third day, I decided I couldn’t stand it anymore and had an idea. I was pretty certain my extreme itchiness was caused by withdrawal from the Zyrtec, which we all know is an antihistamine. So my idea was to take a different antihistamine — one that acted similar to Zyrtec but one made with a drug my body was unfamiliar with – i.e. Allegra.

“I bought a one month supply of Allegra and after taking the first dose, my itchiness was gone in two hours. I continued taking the Allegra for two weeks and then stopped without experiencing any further withdrawal symptoms.

“Perhaps the makers of Allegra should market Allegra as an antihistamine that alleviates the symptoms caused by allergies as well as an antihistamine that alleviates the symptoms of withdrawal caused by Zyrtec.”

 in San Marcos, TX

“I am currently on day 9 of Zyrtec withdrawal. The itching and hives have been absolutely unbearable. Every bit of my body has been affected 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 hives 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 acupuncture 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.” F.M.

Don’t forget, if you want nondrug approaches along with other ways to deal with allergies, check out Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy. And share your own story below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I have used Zyrtec off and on for many years, but this final time I’ve used it pretty much non-stop for about a year and a half. So when I stopped taking it 29 days ago now, I thought I was losing my mind because within 24 hours, I was itching uncontrollably. I relocated to the area about 2 months ago, and I was thinking that perhaps it was just because there are so many trees here, and this place is just so green, but I also found it weird that I would start itching all of a sudden. And it was a “different” kind of itch, as if something was crawling all over my skin just biting away at me.

It was not until a few days later that I got online to see what it could possibly be that I ran across a post that mentioned “itchiness caused by stopping Zyrtec.” At least now I felt like I wasn’t going crazy; however, the itching just would not let up, and I REFUSED to ever go back and take the Zyrtec, so basically I have just been riding it out. I just didn’t ever want to feel that way again. What I started doing was taking Benadryl, and because I wasn’t sure if it was what was in Zyrtec alone that was causing the problem or all anti-histamines, some days I just wouldn’t take the ***. While *** did help with stopping the itch, whenever I didn’t take it, that horrible itch would start back up. Tomorrow will be day 30, and while the itching has gotten better when I’m not taking some type of anti-histamine, the itching still rears it’s ugly head.

I went out and spent way too much money on creams, trying to get some relief. I purchased all kinds of eczema lotions/creams out of desperation but of course they didn’t help. It seems that the itch is much deeper down and again, it feels like little bites as well. And let me tell you, there wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t itching – it was just that bad. I’m angry that they would sell something over the counter that could cause these types of side effects.

If you haven’t taken it DON’T. This stuff is horrible, and I honestly would rather deal with allergy symptoms than the side effects and withdrawals from stopping the Zyrtec. I took an anti-histamine last night and within 30 minutes there was no itching, so you almost feel like you need to take something, but perhaps the key is not taking it everyday or it could just be that whatever is in Zyrtec is the culprit, and it’s just plain nasty.

I was told to take Zyrtec for a possible allergic rash to something. It took it for 3 weeks and the rash started to go away, but not totally. At the end of week 3, I noticed that I was itching on the upper part of my chest by my collar bone. I started to get some red spots. So, my dr recommend that I also take Bendryl at night and Zyrtec during the day. I took 1/2 bendryl because I was worried about drowsiness and wanted to see how I reacted. After 2 days of doing the Zyrtec in the day and 1/2 Bendryl at night, my red dots turned into a horrible rash which keeps spreading. Since I was still taking the Zyrtec, I thought maybe I was allergic to it. So I stop all medicines and it has been 5 days and my rash just keeps spreading and the itching is horrible. I am a teacher and trying to work as I deal with this insane rash and itching. I read some posts that said trying Allegra worked, but then others who said they had the same reaction to Allegra. I am trying to decide if I go cold turkey and let it play out or take Allegra? Also, how long does the hives and itching last if you go cold turkey?

I started taking Zyrtec daily about 18 months ago to proactively relieve allergy symptoms, mainly sneezing, runny nose/throat. I ran out about a week ago and haven’t been experiencing allergy symptoms, so no urgency to buy more. But for the last several days, I have been itching everywhere. Worst on the scalp and in ears, mild everywhere else. With the season turning cooler/dryer and having grown a beard, I attributed the itching to those factors. However, I’ve grown a beard before and only experienced the itching for a couple of days, and only in my beard. I even had my wife check for lice last night. Woke up this morning with a thought that it could be from stopping Zyrtec, and here we are! Thanks for this. May try to ride it out, but the Claritin idea sounds like a good back up. I can’t believe it’s not a published warning.

I was prescribed Centirizine for my hay fever a few years ago and have been taking it on and off (if and when) since. Last year my hay fever got so bad that the doctor advised me to start my antihistamine earlier (March) so my system get enough antihistamine built up before the onset of my hayfever. I did as I was told and have been taking it religiously for 6 months (2 tabs 5mg/day). I decided to stop taking it about 4 days ago, and I have been itching from top to toe since. I have not been sleeping well as the itching is unbearable. I have blamed everything at first (beddings, dogs, pollen residue, even my husband) until I read the above comments. It doesn’t relieve my itching but it’s good to know that I am not going mad.

I took Zyrtec for a couple of weeks in April and May 2018 for seasonal allergies. Days after I stopped I had inflamed red itchy Patches that covered almost my entire legs, front of torso, palms and scalp. I also had asthma symptoms that I have not had since childhood. I took Zyrtec and it went away. I stop Zyrtec and it comes back. I have been trying stop and have been using other antihistamines to edict the symptoms. This is just awful.

I too ran out of my prescription Cetirizine and was not able to get to pharmacy for a few days. The itching can be intense and it is everywhere, even my armpits are itchy!

I too have experienced the severe itching after attempting to stop taking Zertec. After learning from posts on the web about the prevalence of this side effect I (1) filed a comment [thus far unacknowledged] with the FDA, and (2) began an 8-week withdrawal plan another user reported was successful. I got through the first 6 weeks without itching. However, it returned in week 7 when I was down to taking one half of a Zertec pill (5mg) every third day. I fear that I may need to go back to 5 mg every other day until I can find another strategy from someone on this site, or another site. Thanks for the tip about Allegra, but frankly, I am concerned about using another pharmaceutical at this point. Thanks also for sharing your experiences and strategies. They are affirming!

I’m tapering my teenage son off Claritin/loratadine. He’s been taking a 10mg pill daily for 6yrs. I took him off of it in May & 5 days later he had the most severe, painful, itchy hives (he’s never had hives in his life). And he had unbearable itching from scalp to toe. I googled it & discovered antihistamine withdrawal (or rebound). I read hundreds of posts ab people’s experiences tapering off or going cold turkey. Cold turkey was not an option bc I wasn’t going to have him go thru that torture.

Here’s our tapering schedule. We’ve had success so far. Right now we’re in week 8 & he’s taking 1.8mL daily. I think the key is switching to liquid & tapering slowly. I bought a syringe that measures 0.1mL. I’m also giving him 1000mg of vitamin C daily (500mg in morning & 500mg in afternoon or evening).

Week 1 & 2: 5mg pill daily, no itching (we went on vacay during week 2, so I kept him on 5mg. But he had no itching during week 1, so if we had been home I would have tapered in week 2)

Week 3: (switched to liquid) 4mL daily, no itching

Week 4: 3mL daily, no itching

Week 5 & 6: 2mL daily. When he started this dose, he was itching ab 30min to 1 hour before his next scheduled dose. So I gave him the dose a bit early on those days. As soon as he’d take the dose, his itching stopped within minutes & he was fine the rest of the day. He only itched before the next dose for about 4 days. After this I was scared to taper, so he stayed on 2mL for 2 weeks.

Week 7: 1.9mL daily. For a few days after starting this dose, he had a couple of itchy spots pop up within 3 hrs after taking the dose. They looked like mosquito bites. The itching was very mild. He never complained about it & said it wasn’t bad at all. After 3 days on this dose he had no itching.

Week 8: 1.8mL daily. We’re in week 8 now & so far no itching.

My plan is to keep tapering by 0.1mL weekly. I’ve googled lots of tapering methods, not just for antihistamines. For tapering off any meds, I read that you shouldn’t taper until you’re stable on your current dose. So I’ll only taper if he has no itching. I also read that you can have more withdrawal symptoms on the lower doses. So as we taper, I may have to keep him on a dose for 2 or 3 weeks.

As much as I want him off this med, I’m willing to taper slowly to keep him comfortable & happy. I bought some quercetin & omega 3 as suggested by others. If the itching gets bad I’ll start him on it. I read that you shouldn’t take quercetin for more than 3 months at a time. So I’m saving it for the end of the taper.

Good luck to everyone!

I have been off Zyrtec for 5 days, and I’m itching from head to toe. I have allergy testing in 5 more days. Wondering how long it takes for the itching to stop. HELP.

Just wanted to add another story for those who feel in doubt.

I have food allergies specifically shellfish from the Gulf of Mexico. I could eat all the shrimp and blue crabs I wanted until about 18 yrs old when I had an anaphylactic shock incident. I attributed this to the increasing runoff of pollution into our oceans as well as the many oil accidents and dispersants we have had over the years. I can eat crabs from the Arctic (King Crab and Snow Crab) just fine without any reactions.

Anyways Last Thanksgiving I went with family to Galveston, and we ate at a local seafood restaurant and had scallops “fresh” from the Gulf. I figured this may be a bad omen. I later had some hives so I took some Aller-tec (Costco generic of cetirizine). This is where my adventure began. The allergies would go away and then flare up every 3-4 days like clockwork. I never took note of this and wrote it off as a persistent allergy to be wary of. Well 4 months later after a whole bunch of bad personal incidents, I was still on the medication about 2 times a week trying to get off the meds. Then I got diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes. So I was double worried to get off the meds. I stopped and instantly had the night itchies hives under my armpits scratching involuntarily and waking up. Took an another pill and it went away only 2 days and same exact reaction – heavy hives.

I swore to stop the pill and took the advice to get Quercetin / Bromelian from Now at an HEB grocery where I live. I stocked up on this the day before and got two meals following the directions to take 2 pills per meal. That night when I knew it was supposed to be wearing off I got the tell tale signs of random tingling spots all around my body and then the hives showed up but this time was only 1/3 the area as before and the intensity was WAY less enough that some cortizone max on the area was enough to ignore and sleep through. I can confirm I had the same random small hives popup for a couple days, but I took the Quercetin a couple days after to be safe and there have been little to no reactions now. I did get a cough randomly out of nowhere but I can’t be sure this wasn’t just me walking in the morning for an hour at 70 degrees with a breeze in short sleeves.

Anyways, good luck to all out there and don’t give up – I beat it and I know you can too. Luckily I was only on it for 4 months. Also my doctor blew me off when I told him about my reactions like no one gets allergic to antihistamines. Seems I know who I am not going back to ever again as he just doesn’t listen to me about my health. They just want to push you out the door with another prescription.

If anyone wants to know, I am off my Diabetes meds and showing normal numbers now and exercising a whole ton more as I was sedentary a few years and eating terrible.

I’ve been taking Cetirizine tablets (mostly Zyrtec, but some generic equivalents as well) on a daily basis for about 2 years. I’ve been taking them mostly because they significantly reduce the severity of my Asthma, which is primarily allergy related. But they always made me feel a bit drowsy, and I’m convinced that they negatively impacted both my mental agility and my hand-eye coordination, which I eventually decided that I didn’t want to tolerate anymore.

So in consultation with both my GP and my Pharmacist I devised an alternative treatment regime which consisted of more consistent preventative Symbicort Inhaler doses (also used as a rescuer on occasion), Ventolin (used in preference to Symbicort as a rescuer since it’s mostly more effective for me for that purpose), Dymista nasal spray (which contains a corticosteroid _and_ an antihistamine), and Zaditen eye drops (only as needed). This can be quite the daily routine sometimes, but for me it is ultimately preferable to feeling like a somewhat spaced out lesser version of myself. I’m less forgetful, more switched on, and I can play my guitars again at a skill level that I thought I had lost because I was “getting old”.

So suffice it to say that I don’t like Zyrtec anymore either.

That said I don’t believe I experienced any withdrawal symptoms whatsoever, though I know from experience that I would have felt pretty damned horrible if I had not taken alternative allergy treatment measures to deal with the problems that prompted me to start taking Zyrtec in the first place. My intention here is not to call into question anyone else’s experiences, I just felt inclined to chime in to report that Zyrtec withdrawal does not appear to be a universal problem. For what it’s worth.

Thank you all for sharing. I thought I was going crazy with my itching and hives popping up everywhere! I used to take Claritin (began making my heart race) then Allegra and was told by my allergist to switch to Zyrtec when I had a very bad case of hives. Ever since then (about three years ago) whenever winter came, I would attempt to stop taking it. I attributed the itch and patches of hives to dry skin, cleansers, lotions, and even thinking I began to be allergic to my pets. I would always go without for a few days then start taking it again as the itching was unbearable. I wish now that I had just stopped and discontinued the first year as each year seems to be worse when I attempt. I am going to take some Benadryl tonight and pick up some Allegra as some have recommended. Zyrtec has really helped my allergy flair-ups but something that causes this much reaction when you stop taking it for two days should have a warning (and something that an allergist should be aware of before suggesting!)

Something needs to be done about this!!! It’s CRAZY. Here is my story, copied from a facebook post I made yesterday; after finding this and many other articles/sites.

“For a couple years now, I’ve been thinking I had some kind of skin allergy, reaction to medications/supplements I’ve taken, effects from other KNOWN health issues, or even worrying about underlying UNknown health issues. Until I stumbled across the Google search term “Zyrtec (Cetirizine) Withdrawl”.

I bought a package of Member’s Mark (Sam’s Club) Zyrtec for my seasonal allergies a few years ago. Of course, being Sam’s club, this was a few YEAR’S supply. In hindsight, right around every winter, I would start getting random, intense itching on random, otherwise unaffected areas of my body… my feet, my legs, my hands, my fingers, ears, scalp, etc. It could be a patch as small as between my knuckles on a single finger, to my entire calf, shin, ankle, and foot. It would (does) keep me up at night. It would make me scratch until I left significant marks (some of which became scars) on myself… yet I STILL coulnd’t NOT scratch it. It was embarassing, it was a nuisance, and – especially just for some itchy skin – it affected my life quite a lot.

I stopped using dryer sheets and fabric softener, I tried all different types of detergents; no change. I tried different body soaps and washes; no change. I tried everything from cortisone cream, to skin moisturizers, to Coconut oil to “medicated” talcum powders; no change. I even saw my Doctor about it a few times. No remedies.

The only thing that seemed to help – in a last ditch effort one day earlier this year – was getting back on my allergy medication. The strange thing was that as soon as that 24 hour mark (when it would be time for another dose) would start to creep up – right around 20 hours or so – I would start to get this INTENSE itching again!! So, I just kept taking the allergy meds in order to help it subside.

Then… Today… I start finding articles like this. And now that I think about it… IT’S TRUE!! My ALLERGY MEDS are what’s been driving me CRAZY all along!!! WTF!!!”

I was on daily Claritin for 2 years went to allergy Dr and he told me to take Zyrtec instead which I did for three years. Last week I decided to stop and only take as needed in allergy season. Well I’m miserable with itching everywhere. I’m going to try the Allegra for 2 weeks and go off that and see if itchy feeling will be gone. Also bought vitamin C as I saw mentioned in someone’s blog.

I am so relieved to see that I’m not the only person who has experienced unbearable itching upon stopping generic Zyrtec. I don’t want to ever take it again, reminds me of a terrible case of poison ivy I had. Yuk.

I’m so thankful for this site. My doctor advised me to take Zyrtec everyday for severe allergies. I’ve been taking Zyrtec for 7 months. I went out of town a few weeks ago and didn’t have my Zyrtec. I didn’t have any allergy symptoms but had SEVERE itching after 3 days. I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something so I bought Zyrtec and took one. The itching stopped. I was suspicious so I stopped again. My allergies are horrible but the itching is the worst. I’m on day 4 of no Zyrtec. I can’t believe this isn’t a huge warning for this and that doctor’s aren’t waking up to the dangers of long term use and withdrawal.

I was put on cetirizine daily over 4 years ago. The doctor ordered it for rapid fire sneezing year round. Along with other medications I have developed horrible dry mouth, so a different Dr. told me to discontinue the cetirizine. The second day off I had strange itching all over. It went hard to my groin and now it’s my back and feet. I woke up the other night with horrible itching on the lower front of my calfs. I have never experienced this in my life (an old man now) and I came to the net looking to see if it could be the cetirizine. I guess I have my answer.

I too am Portuguese and experience this withdrawal symptom. Mostly in my knuckles at first. I would suggest weaning off the drug instead of cutting off cold turkey as you will get a rebound effect. Usually worse at night.

When it’s time to come off, I wean the dose ( half pill) and then prolong the time between doses. If my hand get too itchy I just note the time and take the smaller dose which most often does the trick. Your body needs to re-regulate itself. Cetirizine is an amazing drug and not sure I would be here today without it but you do need to be careful coming off.

I agree there should be a warning and pharmacists should be educating their patients on the matter if they aren’t already.

I was going in to Dr. for a allergy skin test so I needed stop taking Zyrtec. I had been taking it almost daily for several years, all year round. I’m discovering by reading this that the reason I couldn’t stop for more than a couple of days was because I would begin itching so I thought I needed to get back on the Zyrtec.

For the first few days, it was the palms of my hand and then moved to my feet and eventually everywhere. Felt like itching and skin prickling on my arms, fingers, privates, scalp, it has been awful. I will not go back on Zyrtec and I am happy to see people didn’t experience the same withdrawal with Allegra or Claritin. If my allergies get really bad I may try those but I’m wanting to take something natural.

I’m currently taking an herbal supplement that has Quercetin, Bromelian, and Vitamin C, and Magnesium, been taking for about a week and it does seem to help. Also drinking a tea that has stinging nettle. It’s been 11 days and it is not done yet. Not constant but flares up.

Hope two weeks is a magic number! I was so glad to find that other people had experienced something similar and shared what worked for them.

I’ve been taking Allegra for 10 years and stopped for allergy testing. I’m having moderate itching all over as well as some joint inflammation. Most of the posts here are about Zyrtec but I can tell you Allegra will cause similar symptoms.

I have taken Zyrtec for about 4 years and decided to see what nasal spray I should take in conjunction with it. I discovered that I should probably just take the nasal spray so I stopped Zyrtec about a week ago. If I had missed a dose before I noticed that the palms of my hands itched.

I thought it was because I was allergic to something. Now the tops of my feet, my shins, my forearms, palms and scalp take turns itching. Maybe I’ll take a benadryl for a few days and see if that helps. It’s not terrible all the time but it sure is annoying and I see no end yet. This site has been very informative.


I wanted to share some thoughts on this since I have had exactly the same experience as many people who have posted here. Initially took Zyrtek for pollen allergies and would stop for the rest of the year. However noticed I was getting itchy hives at times throughout the year and eventually started taking it year round for 6-7 years. Initially chose Zytek instead of Claritin as I found it more effective at reducing my symptoms, and it helped me sleep at night.

Upon realizing that I didn’t want to be so dependent on zyrtek, I tried to stop taking it but was never able to stop without dreadful itching all over the body. The answer for me was simply to switch from zyrtek to claritin for 2-3 weeks. Claritin dealt with the zyrtek withdrawal as this is an antihistamine also but works via a different mechanism presumably. I stopped taking claritin after about 2-3 weeks and waited anxiously to see if any symptoms would return. They didn’t! I get very infrequent itching now which is the same as it was before taking any kind of antihistamine. For the pollen season, I only take Claritin for a couple of months a year without the worry of any withdrawal after stopping it.

Hoping that others will try this and have similar success!

Had allergy testing & told by Dr to take Zyrtec & Nasacort spray. Had been on Zyrtec for 3 weeks & had to come off for some other allergy testing. Started itching terribly the day I came off of it. 3 days later I had my allergy testing & discussed the itching with the Dr. She said it was probably from stopping the Zyrtec. She suggested I try using Allegra instead, but didn’t offer any solutions for the itching. After 2 more days of itching my husband gave me some of his prednisone he uses for asthma to try to help me get some relief. The day after I started the prednisone I started getting relief. I took half the prednisone each day- 20mg, 10mg, 5mg, 2mg. I have been off the prednisone for a little over a day & it feels like some itching is starting back. This is awful!!

I have sensitive skin and I got hives after using a face cream. Dr gave me s shot and told me to started taking Zyrtec for that and seasonal allergies. When I tried to stop cold turkey I would get itchy. Thinking it was allergies I stayed on it for a few years until I ran out 10 days ago. At first my scalp itched then my back. Then when my underarms and eyebrows itches to I discovered this blog. I’m glad for this blog. Now I know what it is I have taken warm baths with 2 cups of Epsom salts and 1 cup baking soda instead of showers and the itching is now greatly reduced.

Oh yes, I never knew this was the reason for my intense itching until my chiropractor/guru sent me this link. I itch everywhere if I miss a dose or stop it. I can’t sleep & scratch all day & night with frequent hives development.

This is an outrage. I’m trying to wean off of it. I’m in the beginning stages & using Benadryl 2 nights followed by Zyrtec the 3rd. I may try a little Claritin as mentioned in one comment but ultimately would like to try & control my allergies with herbal based products.

I’m trying to come up with a solution!

I accidentally stopped Zyrtec by running out of it and forgetting to buy more. My hands and feet started itching about day 2 a little, then a lot by day 3. I finally figured out that it had to be Zyrtec withdrawal. I work at a hospital with many prestigious medical professionals, and they think Zyrtec withdrawal is not a real thing just because they have not heard of it. Something definitely needs to be done about the labeling of this product. I went to the Dr and got a steroid taper, it has helped a little in the day time, but at night I go crazy and scratch my skin off my hands and feet. Taking a Benadryl before bed helps. I am on day 5 of cold turkey no Zyrtec, don’t think I can last much longer.

I’ve been taking it for about 6 months – just stopped yesterday because I’m going in for allergy testing in a week and OMG! The itching is horrible. I thought I was coming down with chicken pox or something. I had no idea it was related to stopping the medication, but I guess it makes sense. Really ridiculous that there’s no warning this is a side effect – and it’s extremely disruptive.

I have had the same problems with itching. I have tried a slow withdrawal process that seems to work. I start by skipping one day for a short period of time, that is, taking Zyrtec every other day for a week. Progressively, skipping two days for a week and so on.

I overheard someone who had a cold say the antihistamines makes their scalp itchy and flaky. A light bulb went off could this be causing my sudden scalp issues? I stopped the Zyrtec and my entire body itched like I had bug bites everywhere! I mean everywhere! Felt like a crazy person! The whole reason I started taking it was for hives how ironic. My research led me to all of you and I now know I’m Not Crazy but having withdrawal. I’m going to try switching to Allegra, then stopping that. I read in many places in my research this works. Good Luck Everybody!

Just tried stopping my zyrtec due to being pregnant and OMG the itching is so bad my entire body is red and scratched. This symptom would had been nice to know before I started this medication. I also have a 2 year old on it and not sure what I’m going to do to help him get off of it!!

I stopped taking Atarax after 2 years of taking 25mg every night at bedtime. By the third day I started having severe itching in my hands and feet. The itching got so bad I scratch the skin of my feet and palm open. I was told there would not be withdraw symptom. But upon reading the responses of others on this board it sounds like my symptoms may be legitimate? I do not want to go back on Atarax, but wonder when the itching will stop?

I stopped taking Zyrtec last week because it was not helping me anymore. I had taken it for 1-2 years daily. I started itching on the 2nd day after stopping and it was driving me crazy! It would come and go but when it started it was so intense I could hardly stand it. I took benadryl and it calmed down after about 30 minutes. I started itching again the next day and the only thing I could think of that I was doing different was stopping the Zyrtec. I googled Zyrtec withdrawal and could not believe all the comments! I will never take it again! Bendadryl is helping me get through this!

I’m sitting here right now itching to death! I’ve been taking the generic version of Zyertec. There is no warning label on the bottle of this horrible side effect and something needs to be done. I can’t go cold turkey off this stuff so I’m trying to wean myself off slowly by taking 1 tab every two days and then try every three days,etc…I’m sorry everyone else is itching too but I’m also relieved that I’m not alone in this. I really hate pharmaceuticals. Is there anything being done???

I was having the worst time with itching while trying to stop Zyrtec. I stumbled across a blog post that helped me get off Zyrtec.

The key is weaning off of it instead of going cold turkey. Good luck to all who are struggling with this!

My Dr told me to stop Zyrtec due to chronic sinus infections. Couldn’t understand why I would start itching. Didn’t understand it and then I read all these other stories and I’m with y’all. Does anyone know how I can get off this stuff?

My doctor also looked at me like I was crazy when I told her of the zyrtec withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately once my husband saw how much I was suffering with itching everywhere, he helped me greatly in figuring out what to do. About the same time I decided to go cold turkey with my hubby’s support, I got a bit of a cold. I was taking dayquil and nyquil for about 5 days. This helped DRAMATICALLY with the itching. I’m assuming the antihistamine in it was enough to stop the itching. And I think the 5 days was long enough to get the zyrtec out of my system. After my cold cleared up, I was zyrtec and itch free!

After multiple failed attempts at discontinuing cetirizine over two years with the cold turkey approach, I am finally free of the medication and withdrawal free. I want to share how I did it in the hope of helping others who — like me– tried and failed to suddenly stop taking this medication due to itching so severe as to make it impossible to function at work and as a parent. This is a kindler, gentler way to do it, but it will take a few weeks.

Week one- decreased my usual dose from 5 mg at bedtime nightly to 2.5 mg. I also started taking 1 gram a day of vitamin C, 1 pill daily of Les Labs Sinus and Seasonal Dietary Supplement ( I bought this at — contains Quercetin, Nettle Root Extract, Bromelain, and Butterbur Root Extract), and NAC Sustain ( from Jarrow Formulas– also purchased on Amazon). The supplements are to support healthy histamine levels naturally. No Itching.

Week 2- changed to liquid Cetirizine dosed orally with a syringe so that I could precisely decrease the dose. Decreased dose to 2 mg at night and continued Vitamin C, NAC, and the Sinus and Seasonal supplements as above. No itching.

Week 3 – 1.5 mg nightly plus the supplements. No itching.

Week 4- 1 mg nightly plus the supplements. No itching.

Week 5- decreased dosed from 1 mg by 0.1 mg nightly and continued supplements. I thought I was going to withdraw without any side effects. After all, I weigh 120 lbs. this medication could certainly not be strong enough to be having any effect on my body in such small amounts, right? RIGHT? Wrong! As soon as I went off the cetirizine, the itching started within 12 hours of the last dose. It was markedly decreased from previous withdrawal ( by about 80%), and manageable, but still bothersome: unpredictable patches of itching and burning skin affecting scalp, and strange areas like the eyebrows, and between the fingers and toes. I also found that my skin became hypersensitive- localized hives where my hair touched my shoulders, the neck line of my shirts. I had to stop wearing a necklace because I would break out where the pearls touched my skin. I also had flare ups of itching after showering, at night when changing clothes, and during changes of temperature. Of note, I have never had hives or suffered from sensitive or itchy skin before taking Zyrtec. I carried around with me Benadryl vials that can just be torn open and taken on the spot. The first week I took three when the itching got bad at work. All itching gone within 15 minutes of taking the Benadryl and did not return for 24 hours. The second week I only took Benadryl once. I have not needed any since, the itching essentially went away day 15 after I stopped the medication. I now feel great. I continue taking the vitamin C, NAC, and Seasonal and Sinus natural supplement since I do have allergies.

One thing I found extremely helpful was a heating pad. I don’t know why, but applying the heating pad to itchy skin made the itch stop almost immediately.

Good luck. I encourage everyone who has withdrawal symptoms for report it to the FDA, as I did. This medication is too powerful to be over the counter and needs to carry strong warning against long term use.

Like some others on here, I am having allergy testing next week & have to be off antihistamines. I stopped Zyrtec and had no trouble the 1st night, but last night I woke up at 4 a.m. feeling like I was being attacked by fleas! I was SO itchy….EVERYWHERE!. I layered cortisone cream, then calamine lotion, then cortisone – finally I caved and took 1/2 of a Benadryl and was able to get back to sleep.

I thought I had seen or heard something about itching when stopping Zyrtec so I Googled it and it brought me here. I’m glad to know I’m not alone, but NOT happy to hear how hard it is to get off of this stuff. Is there any medicine we can trust? Talk about a rock in a hard place :(

I too had bad zytec reaction..chemist said switch to another brand of antihistamine…but also try Phenergan 25mg..take at night
I did this for one afternoon and 2 nights..itching is going
Phenergan makes you very drowsy

I’m going to have some allergy testing on Tuesday and have to be off of all allergy meds for I week. The first couple days were OK but come Day 3, I can’t quit itching. Especially, my hands between my fingers. It feels like it itches in my bones. It would be easier to say where I don’t itch. My husband saw me gently rocking at the kitchen table and said he thought I was going through some form of withdraw symptoms. I thought he was nuts until I googled and found this forum. This is sooooo what’s going on with me! I can’t believe the doctors mentioned aren’t familiar with it!

LOL, took me years to finally Google this.
My palms and fingers get ridiculously itchy if I don’t take my Zyrtec.
I try not to take it every day, but by the 3rd day, the itch is unbearable. Pop a Zyrtec and it’s gone almost immediately, well okay, maybe within 15 minutes. I am going to try a 3 day regimen to start, maybe a half a pill every 2 days. My doctor thinks I’m nuts…

Add me to the list of itchy scratchers and finally connecting it to zyrtec withdrawal!

I’ve been taking zyrtec for several years…was doing allergy shots, nasal spray etc for my allergies. I got tired of shots so I quit last fall…they seemed to help but such a pain to do every week. A few months ago I went off my nasal spray due to cost and off Singulair due to side effect of mood swings. Only on zyrtec now. I tried 1 day not taking it…had a rash and itching start at my hands and feet then eventually went everywhere. Miserably itchy hot rash. Today I forgot to take it and late this afternoon and just now I’ve been getting rashes here and there..just got over both feet itching so badly they burned, red with raspy bumps….still itching all over one area to the next…I just took another zyrtec not knowing what to do. I told my doctor a few months ago when this first happened and she had no input…I’m not crazy..this sucks really bad. What can we do??? I am so happy to see its not just ME! SOMEONE help please.

Hello together,
I’m from Germany and I started with Cetirizine almost 10 oder more years ago. In all this years I often tried to live without it, but at every time, there was this horrible itching all over my body. So I went to the doctor and we found out, that I was allergic to dust, but not very strong. So I lived a long time with the pills and took them every day.

One year ago, I told another doctor of my symptoms (maybe the 6th doctor). He was horrified and said to me that I have to withdraw it because this medicine isn’t produced to live with it. He said there can be some side effects to my mind and other things. But how I can get off this pill, he didn’t tell me. So I started to reduce the portions all two weeks:

1. One pill on every second day
2. half pill on every second day
3. quarter pill on every second day

Than i stopped taking it. The itching started, every day I survived without taking it again, I marked on my calender. The first week was very hard, the next two weeks hard but not as the first week was. Sucking some bonbons helped me and hot water. I tried not to scratch my skin because it made it even worse.

Now I’m Cetirizine-free for 3 and a half month. It still itches sometimes but nothing I couldn’t handle. I believe some day it will completly gone because I feel every week, that it becomes better and better. I have much more energie and I’m more positive than before.

So try it: You can live without this pill!!!

All the best to you and kind regards from sunny Germany!

It took me several instances of forgetting my cetirizine to conclude that the intense itching was a withdrawal symptom. Doctors have since told me if I don’t have any side effects while on cetirizine then continue taking it. I’m not ok with that since I now know how it affects my whole body. It is amazing that such a small dose (3mg) can completely eliminate the itch for 23.9 hours. I’ve tried weaning and cold turkey a few times.

I’m currently in hour 44 and having some serious itching. Sudden changes in temperature such as removing a shirt or socks seems to trigger it the most. The scalp and eye itch is the worst for me!

Thanks for your posts. They helped bust the thoughts of other things being wrong. Hopefully some research will be conducted and give us some relief.

I’ve taken Zirtek for over 20 years from Spring through to Autumn for seasonal allergies and urticaria. When I leave it off in Winter (no allergens) its absolutely fine.

While there is obviously a problem for SOME people, please don’t spoil it for everyone with all this scaremongering. Zirtek is a godsend to thousands of chronic urticaria sufferers that the other antihistamines just don’t touch.

I ended up here because I stopped zyrtec a few days ago, and suddenly began itching like CRAZY. I didn’t make the connection till today and googled to see if there was a connection between stopping zyrtec and itching. Ye gods this is hell.

I think I’m going to have to start taking benadryl when it gets bad. Be nice if the FDA would at least investigate it.

I don’t think this forum is meant to ruin it for those who experience no issues. Rather, it’s to help those who are experiencing issues. I’m glad it works for you!

Omg! I took my last Zyrtec Sunday morning and Monday morning the itching began! I have been taking Zyrtek for 3+ years now at the suggestion of a dermatologist! This is insane! It’s Tuesday morning and the itching is almost unbearable. So glad I found this website I was starting to think I was nuts. I am going to try Allegra for a month as someone else here suggested.

I am off now for 5 days bc of allergy testing and I itch so bad it’s unbareable. I have hives all over my body. I feel like there are needles prickling all over and itching every single inch of my body.

I tired to get off Zyertec cold turkey and three days in I had to rush to see my doctor. I had been taking the meds for over 15 years and wanted to build up my immunity. The intense itchiness is a problem – it will end you because it is public and it will itch and private places. The hives are huge, hot and can bleed. My face also had hives and I was embarrassed as heck. My doctor told me we have histamines in the belly and that when we stop taking meds, our bellies freak out. I got nausea, diarrhea and dizziness. It really is not worth losing a day of week, not being able to eat and my doctor told me that the hives are a result of my body reacting to my allergen (dust) and not withdrawal. So folks, of course do as you wish, but right now, I am in bed, in a cold type sweat, not being able to eat, taking 3 types of meds to get over my symptoms. I’m taking the Zyertec – there is no evidence that it will impact your central nervous system and homeopathic medicine is cool, but when your allergies are almost giving you panic attacks, enough is enough!

I stopped taking Zyrtec because I had to do some allergy shots testing then the following day I start ed being itchy really itchy but when I saw the doctor he offered me two Allegra Pills and miraculously the itchiness stopped. However, after a couple of days, the itchiness came back. I am not sure if I should continue with Allegra or go back to zyrtec or quit both and endure the crazy itchiness.

Frustrated with no solution as of yet…. I took Zyrtec for about three months last spring thinking I had seasonal allergies. When I tried to stop in the early summer I immediately had full-body, intermittent random intense itching with no visible symptoms – felt like it was coming from UNDER my skin, especially in my hands, feet, ankles and belly. Saw my dermatologist and my allergist and neither had a good answer for me other than “it’s ok to be on these types of drugs long-term.” But I don’t want to!!!! Gah. So after some internet research I found the rebound itch issue with Zyrtec and decided to switch to Allegra. Once daily Allegra completely eliminated the itch, but if I forgot to take my daily Allegra the itch came back with a vengeance. I have to take it within an hour or two of waking up otherwise I start itching in my palms and feet. So now I am stuck taking Allegra daily for the unforeseeable future because I simply can’t take the itch. With no visible symptoms the doctors can’t seem to help me at all. I have been able to cut back to 1/2 an Allegra pill each day, and plan to try to cut back further to 1/4 and see what happens, but now it’s been almost a year stuck on these meds. Itching is a million times worse than pain and I don’t wish it on anyone. If anyone has success getting off these pills, please share your strategies!!!

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 the 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 couldn’t 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 congestion and cough. Once I take half tablet of zyrtec, I’m relieved in 20-30mins. looking at the hypertension and drowsiness, even I consulted homeopathic doctors… continued both Zyrtec and Homeopathic medicine for almost 3 years…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 scientists doing, who developed cetrizine and zyrtec tablets? It’s 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 the itching starts after 2 days, maybe you can try 1/2 tablet every 36 or 48 hours, and then increase the time between them by 12-24 hours over the next 2-3 months? I havent tried this, but I may have to. The itching is driving me mad.

I am so glad I found this site. I stopped Zyrtec a few days ago after taking for years. I am going absolutely mad from the intense itching, especially on my hands. I do have all over my body but the hands are the worst. It is a hot burning sensation in my nerve endings. Running hot water helps temporarily. No lotions, anti-itch medications or creams of any kind help whatsoever. I’m going back to taking Zyrtec today!

If you have been taking Zyrtc (cetirizine) for years I would disregard most of what you read here. I took it for over 20 years and have found the advice below largely unhelpful in my case. I tried weaning unsuccessfully (got down to 1/8 pill every other day but couldn’t get beyond that point). I tried replacing Zirtec with Allegra (Fexofenadine). This did not work for me and largely undid anything that was achieved through weaning. In my experience only a cold turkey approach is feasible. It is incredibly difficult but I dont think there is another way if you have taken these medications for prolonged periods. It is now almost 8 weeks since I stopped taking either drug. Most testimonials state that itching is usually gone in six weeks. This has not been the case for me. The itching is less frequent but as bad as ever when symptoms return. I will never take Zyrtek or Allegra again and live in hope that symptoms will one day stop. Good luck.

I thought I was going crazy and thinking that there was something seriously wrong with me (intense, painful itching on hands, feet, scalp, private, etc.). Nothing soothes the itch and will often scratch until it bleeds, bruises or welts.

I have finally decided that it is the Zyrtec withdraw. I have been on Zyrtec for months due to allergies and tried stopping once before but going back on the Zyrtec was the only thing that made the itching stop. Recently switched to Allegra for the past few month and am on day 4 of trying to stop again and the same intense itching. Has anyone had any success with stopping the drug and getting rid of the itch?

I am having the same symptoms wroth Allegra. I’m itching everywhere. I’ve tried cold turkey before and it drove me nuts. Im trying again for the second time. Does anyone know of a way to ease off it slower?


I have been on levocetrizine (5mg) for the past 3 months, and in trying to wean myself away from this drug, have suffered the horrible itching and urticarial that results. However, I have been able to manage the suffering and symptoms of itching through Ayurveda – specifically the use of “Gandhaka Rasayana” pills once daily. This medicine uses Sulphur + herbs as key ingredients.
Folks that have access to Ayurveda locally could try out this treatment, it worked for me. Some diet restrictions may be necessary though.

Dear All ,
last few year i am taking levocetrizine (5mg) because of my itching in body and pain in hands after taking this table i will fill good , now i want leave this tablet i can’t so please provide me your suggestions so can leave this tablet , every two day i have itching start from hand and goes to all body and pain in hands.

I, too, have suffered from the intense itching but had never attributed it to Zyrtec. I have been using it for over a year for relief of my seasonal allergies. I was only taking it during the Spring and Summer, as these are the seasons when I’m at my worse.

I started experiencing VERY intense itching and it was driving me crazy, not to mention the fact that the itching was quite embarrassing (palms, bottoms of feet, neck, etc.). I went to my family doctor and she could not figure it out either, only to say that she had experienced the same thing at some point. We never discussed Zyrtec or any other medicine because she already knew what meds I was on. She prescribed Sarna lotion, which offered relief but it was difficult to keep slathering it on throughout the day!

About two months ago, I ran out of Zyrtec and didn’t take it for about 4 days. I noticed that I was really congested and had developed this itching sensation, just like I had experienced before. I got to the point where I could not stand either symptom any longer so I started taking it again and believe me when I say that within 1 hour the itching had subsided!! That became my Ah-ha moment–there’s a link between Zyrtec and the itching when it’s no longer in my system. I only found this site because I decided to Google the subject, and, voila, there actually is something to this ridiculous side effect. Not sure what my next move is yet but I enjoyed reading the posts of others whose “club” I am now a member of.

RE: Zyrtec withdrawals. I took Zyrtec for 3 years and stopped Sept. 14, 2015. I have had severe itching and blisters all over my body that started 48 hours after I stopped taking Zyrtec. Today is October 31, 2015 and no relief as of yet.

I contacted the Zyrtec Company hoping they knew of a remedy for the intense itching caused by Zyrtec withdrawals. The answer I got was “we have never had this complaint before”. Has anyone else contacted the Zyrtec Company? If so, can you please share what you were told.

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. Has anyone else done this and got through it? How long did it take for the symptoms to dissipate?

I am sooo thankful that people have shared their stories about this on this site! Last year, my primary care physician put me on daily Zyrtec for atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema), hay fever and mild asthma. She told me to take it daily so it can “re-set” my system. This past spring was horrible for hay fever sufferers where I live, due to unseasonably warm temps, and the Zyrtec wasn’t working. Until then, the Zyrtec had worked well for all 3 issues, hitting 3 birds with one stone so to speak. Spring was awful for my hay fever. (Side note: over the years I’ve been on one kind of antihistamine or another, but only for short periods. I’ve also tried natural healing and dietary changes with no success)It’s now fall, and I decided to make an appointment with an allergist to see what my latest allergy triggers are and to see if I might qualify for shots. They asked that I stop all antihistamine usage one week prior so I can give an accurate reading.

I’m into day 6 of the Zyrtec fast and it’s another definition for “hell week” for sure! The hives I’m experiencing are like so many others’: itchy red patches on scalp, legs…It’d be easier to list where I haven’t had them. I pray for eczema and that’s saying something! Aveeno and Gold Bond Eczema lotions with colloidal oatmeal (Gold Bond has 2%, double Aveeno) has kept me from going totally nuts (although only soothes the burning partly), and prescription strength corticoid steroid cream (2.5%) has made the “hot patches” worse. I look so funny after putting Aveeno on my scalp every 10 minutes. Thank God I work from home. Forget about sleep! After my appointment, I think I’ll take Allegra, short term, to see if that’ll help. I’m so thankful to all who have shared. I’m NEVER taking Zyrtec again!

Thanks to you all for the info on Zyrtec withdrawal. I have a new allergy doctor and will have testing tomorrow – he asked me to get off all antihistimes for a full seven days prior to intradermal testing.
Don’t know if this is typical, but I’m less than impressed with a doctor who put me in this situation with absolutely no solution, other than to cancel my allergy testing.
So, pardon me while I scratch holes in myself while I wait for tomorrow afternoon. UGH!!

Thanks to all that posted. I went off my Zyrtec for a few days because I’m having a laser procedure. I’m doing OK with my allergies but, I thought I needed to go back on my Zyrtec to stop the itching that I’m experiencing. I will use one person’s suggestion and try taking Claritin to control the itching for a few days and hope that it goes away.

This website SAVED me. I had NO IDEA what was wrong with me, nor did doctors, until I stumbled upon this website. I am 10000% convinced that my body was having a withdrawal from zyrtec. I went in for minor itching/rash and was prescribed multiple steroids/creams, none working, some even making it worse. I spent hundreds on medicines, lotions, creams, bath products, ANY AND EVERYTHING to try and take the unbearable itching and burning of the skin away. Anything listed in the comments on this site, I tried. After 4 months with little relief from zyrtec and the other meds given, I had a mental breakdown and was also put on an anti depressant because the itching had so taken over and ruined my life. I couldn’t concentrate on work. My legs were scratched and bloody in every place imaginable, mainly my arms, thighs and back. I couldn’t go outside and play with my child because the heat exacerbated itching. Couldn’t wear shorts or bathing suit because my skin was so embarrassing.

On May 26th, I went to yet another allergist. I told him my theory about the withdrawal from zyrtec – he did not believe me at all! Thought I was crazy. But he could see I had hit a breaking point. He advised me to stop all antihistamines if I felt they were making my symptoms worse. In addition to the anti depressant, he also prescribed me Gabapentin – this is a medication they use for shingles, epilepsy and other nerve pain. My skin was not only itching, it was intense burning – which caused me to scratch at my skin. This medication saved me y’all. I could tell he clearly did not believe my theory but it didn’t matter to me because this medication is the only thing that brought relief. It did NOT get rid of the itching completely. It got rid of all the burning and probably brought the itch from a 10 down to a 3 or 4. But it was definitely manageable. I stopped scratching my skin enough for it to heal. I was able to save the last half of my summer and enjoy being outside with my toddler and family! I could wear shorts and bathing suits again.

Without taking the medication, my skin would start tingly/burning, so I knew I would need to take it by that. On the medication, I experienced none of this and was even getting whole days of relief. At the 2 month mark of quitting all antihistamines, creams etc, I noticed a drastic difference in my need to take the medicine. It is almost as if my skin is almost better, even when not on the medication. As others have noted, I don’t know that my skin will ever be the same, at least not for a long time. But I have turned a corner in my whole ordeal. It completely ruined half of 2015 for me, and I thought my life would be ruined forever. But my body is slowly healing! I highly highly recommend the gabapentin if it is something your doctor will prescribe you. It is what gave me my sanity through the remainder of the healing process.

I am so grateful I found this website – without it I would have never determined what the REAL issue was, as none of my doctors would even acknowledge it!!!!

I’ve been on Zyrtec for apx 4 yrs. If I don’t take it I have sneezing fits and my nose runs like a faucet in the morning. I constantly feel spaced out, have had episodes of vertigo. I’ve also noticed a sensitivity to natural light and fluorescent lights. Taking it every day makes me feel stuffed up, with very dry nasal passages. These symptoms cause me to feel somewhat dizzy which makes me anxious all the time. I want to get off but can only stop for 2 -3 days before itching starts. Anyone else have these same symptoms ? Any suggestions to get off it?

I have been taking zyrtec for some time now. I recently ran out and was going to get it filled again I’m taking A&P and figured I should let my body build up on its own and not be too dependent on a pill. 2-3 days without it and I have had ridiculous scalp itch, thigh itch, inner ear itch, pretty much all over. Since I have allergy related asthma I was told to take it continuously. This itching is definitely a withdrawal and makes everything worse. Stopping cold turkey. Wish me luck.

I was so relieved to find this site and see that I’m not going crazy. I’ve been taking generic Zyrtec for 15 years and the few times I tried to stop I’ve started itching and burning in varyng parts of my body from my scalp to my feet. It feels like someone is doing chinese burns all over me and I’ve always had to go back on them. I’m currently on day 3 of withdrawal and that was from a starting point of only half a tablet for the last few months so goodness knows how bad I’d feel if I was on a higher dose! I just hope I can put up with this and not go back to it. I’ll let you know how I get on

I’m so glad I found this article! After reading about “Urticarial drug eruptions” on another site and trying to figure out what I have, it occurred to me to search on Zyrtec withdrawal / med switching. I’ve been on Zyrtec for years, but wasn’t sure it was as effective as it once was for me as a lifelong allergy/asthma sufferer. Last week I switched to Claritin, which I’d taken years ago and then stopped when it had become ineffective. Bam.

I thought initially I just had poison ivy or sumac, but then it spread to places that would not have had exposure. Now my hands, legs, feet, knees, back, EAR LOBES (as others have commented) are broken out in hives and skin eruptions or are red and intensely itching. Unfortunately I usually succumb to scalding myself to obtain relief, and then have to deal with burns and blistering. But I cannot stand it.

Fortunately it has not yet triggered my asthma. After reading an initial article on this phenomenon, I ended up taking a Zyrtec. Clearly this is a dangerous medicine in that it is controlling our body more than they want us to know and creating a syndrome.

Oh, and ELBOWS – another tell tale sign apparently!

Wow, this forum is fantastic. Thank you to all who have contributed and especially Judy from San Marcos. Your Allegra worked! My doctor was confident that the allergies were worsening and all the itching and burning was the symptoms I needed to bare. BS!! Doctors are really just prescription writers. Sad but true. I did go to a naprapath, (doctor who practices natural cures and addresses the CAUSE and not the symptom as most western medical doctors do) and she told me it could be Zyrtec or the generic brand.

Sure enough it was. I would go to sleep at night and my feet would be DEEP RED on FIRE to the touch in 32 degree weather for I only keep my home at 68 degrees. Oh yes, I had the same type of itching, EVERYWHERE, all the time and yes even my ear lobes.

Since I tried the Allegra to wean my body off thanks to Judy, I am good!

Shame shame on FDA. Falls Deaf Always. They DON’T protect the consumer. Just look up pesticides and you will see how they support but GMO as well. Our government agencies are big profits at the cost of everyone’s health. It’s the reality.

These forums help us all be more informed and healthier.

Good will to all,


After 3 days of intense itching, and almost scratching my skin off, I decided to google Zyrtec withdrawal. I am comforted by the fact that I do not have some horrible disease, but now have to decided what to do. I just took another pill until I decide what to do. I am going to try the Allegra for 2 weeks and see what happens. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try to wean off a little at a time. I’ll come back to post what happens.

Hi Mary,

Did the Allegra help? I’m considering it to help me with the Zyrtec withdrawls.

How long has an individual gone after stopping Zyrtec for symptoms of withdrawal to begin? I am attempting to decide out if the indicated is my predicament. Surely seems like this. Though, I was off for a Zyrtec a few weeks before the present itching begun

I have presently taken three Zyrtec the last 3 days of the indicated itching; however, it does not seem to make a difference.

I started taking Zyrtec 8-10 years ago for nasal allergies. About 6 years ago, I went to a music festival in another state and forgot to bring my pills. I was fine till the third day, when I broke out in hives all over my body and had to buy some more Zyrtec.

From that day on I was never hive free- even with the Zyrtec. It certainly helped take away most of the hives, but they would recur nightly, just before I took my next dose. I thought it was a topical skin problem, and spent all my money on fragrance free soaps, laundry detergents and creams. At one point, I actually thought we had bedbugs in our house and bought all sort of trap for those and also for fleas and the like. I considered giving away my dog as well, thinking it was an allergy.

Over the next few years, I became unable to eat many foods – corn, apples, grapes and other fruits, onions and garlic, and other items. If I ingested these things I would break out worse than usual. I spent $800 on allergy testing, but the doctor had not listened to me about my major food issues and the tests turned out to be useless nasal tests… more money wasted.

Over the last two years, I have weaned myself off of wheat, soy, rice and dairy, and now sugar, finding a bit of relief with each cut in my diet. My doctor has told me to ‘live with it’ and that I would never know why I had this horrible condition. I cannot enjoy meal with my family, and going out to eat is a nightmare. I have stopped having sex, because it is too painful, I am swollen down there too much. Inflammation has caused me to lose teeth, my appendix and my gall bladder.

The good news is I have found this site and now know the truth. I am on day three of my detox and it’s bad, but not so bad that I will give in and EVER go back on the Zyrtec. Eating only organic meat and veg has spared me the worst of the agony so far. I am dealing with migraine, sporadic hives, and an itch in my private parts, but I feel happy that these symptoms mean I am detoxing FOREVER. I got really depressed after the first day, but feel a hundred times better than I did when taking the Zyrtec, which I think dulled my essential happiness as well. I can’t wait to get through this. I WILL! After all the bad things that have happened since I went on Zyrtec, this momentary agony is not so bad. I see a light at the end of the tunnel and can deal with ANYTHING to get there.

I have been taking Zyrtec for 4-5 years now, and every time I try to quit I experience such intense itching that I feel like I’m going to go insane. I’ve currently gone three days without taking Zyrtec and I have random patches of red skin and severe itching throughout the day. At one point my stomach will be red and itchy, then thirty minutes later my shoulder, back, or legs will itch like crazy. I feel like movement or physical exertion makes the symptoms worse. I went running and became so itchy I almost went to the hospital. The withdrawal symptoms are awful, but it’s reassuring to know that I’m not some random freak having an incredibly unusual reaction to quitting Zyrtec. I was half-convinced for a while that I had developed some terrible autoimmune disease from years of depriving my body’s histamine receptors.

I have been taking Zyrtec for roughly 3 years. I have to take the pills every 2 – 3 days or I get really bad hives.

After googling Zyrtec it then occurred to me that I have been taking the pills for so long because my body is addicted. It is not allergies giving me hives anymore – its the bloody pills that are doing it to me.

I am currently on day 3 without Zyrtec and I am beside myself. I am itching everywhere. It is unbearable. I am praying that it doesnt take 4-6 weeks to get this out of my system because I dont think I will be able to cope.

I refuse to take another of these terrible tablets. And I am going to make sure I tell everyone I know not to take them so they dont have to experience the same thing.

I’ve always had seasonal allergies and taken allergy medicine when my allergies would flare up but in the past 2 years I’ve been needing to take cetrizine (generic) daily otherwise I would start getting itchy. I thought maybe my allergies were just getting worse. I would sometimes forget to take it but then have to get up in the middle of the night to take a pill. I’m having similar symptoms to others. After 24 hours from the last dose I start getting an intense itch all over that doesn’t let up until I take another dose. My hands will get red, swell, sometimes I’ll get welts on my skin. It’s miserable. I decided to do a little online research and realized that I’m not a looney tune and that there are lots of people suffering through this. I’ve decided to try and wean off of the stuff, I tried cold turkey and made it 48 hours before giving in and taking half a pill. I’ve been slathering lotion on which seems to give me a little relief but I’m still itching like a dog with fleas. I’m praying that I’m able to get this drug out of my system and find relief soon. Unfortunately, other peoples comments make me think I’ve got a long road ahead of me.

I am exactly the same. I did cave though and ended up taking 1/2 a tablet so I could sleep. Now I have to start again and am feeling frustrated about it :(

I was on a daily regiment of Zyrtec every day after a severe bout of hives which landed me in the Emergency Room. At the hospital they told me to take Benadryl several times a day, but since it made me so tired the doctor suggested I try Zyrtec. I was taking Zyrtec for approximately 4 years. This past summer under my doctor’s direction I tried to gradually reducing the Zyrtec – first 1/2 pill a day, then 1/2 pill every other day, and then 1/2 pill every two days. Within 2 days of no zyrtec I had severe itching so resumed the zyrtec. I tried this method 3 times, without success. My doctor referred me to an Allergist to do allergy testing, but the Allergist said there was nothing to test for. I just needed to get the Zyrtec out of my system.

I am now on the same method as above. The last pill taken was on January 3rd. Starting the evening of the 5th I got severe itching in my scalp and various places on my body. I used Scalpicin to try to reduce the itching in my scalp. When I woke up the next day the itching seemed ok. Then about 6 pm the same severe itching began. I’m not sure what I will do now, but some of the suggestions of others seem like a good thing to try. Last night I took a prescription Pepcid at bedtime which had been prescribed for me when I had the Hives to take along with Benadryl. It did seem to help with the itching and does help me sleep. I am hoping I can endure this to get rid of the Zyrtec. But I have no idea what I can do if I do need an allergy pill later on.

I found this thread while searching for possible side effects from taking Allegra. After reading these accounts, I believe I have found my problem! 5 days ago, I visited my doctor for what was diagnosed as contact dermatitis on my elbow. I was prescribed a steroid cream and the doctor suggested taking Allegra to help sooth itching.

I have been taking generic Zyrtec (cetirizine) pretty much daily for over a year to control pollen and dust allergies. Since I didn’t want to mix antihistamines, I stopped taking the Zyrtec (immediately following doctor visit). Well 2-3 days later, I started to develop itching on my hands, legs, neck, head, chest and shoulders, accompanied by small red bumps (ironically, the only thing that no longer itches is the contact dermatitis). It is now day 5 and the itching is insane!!!! I am now trying to make the decision to continue cold turkey and never take the Zyrtec again or try the weaning off process. I guess it will depend on how much of the itching I can take and still accomplish my daily tasks. (Note: the red bumps associated with my itchiness appear very different from what is now the almost gone elbow patch that was diagnosed as contact dermatitis)

After reading the comments posted here, I decided to try weaning off of Zyrtec. This is my second week taking 1/2 pill (5mg.) every day and I haven’t had any hives! Yipee, I’m excited and hopeful.
Thanks for the help everyone!

Hello Everyone,

This is Rajlaxmi from India. I’m writing my story because I want you people to know there is nothing impossible in this world.

A few days ago, I was also very tensed about how to get rid of this medicine. When I found severe pain in my feet and visited doctor, I told him about Cetirizine. He told me to immediately stop this medicine. Then I was so worried because I was started regularly taking this pill When I was just 15 yrs old. Now I’m 29yrs. Can you imagine for almost 14yrs I was taking this pill everyday/every alternative day. It was like nightmare when ever I tried to not take this pill. It’s not like that I’ve not tried to withdraw from it. But each time I tried, I failed. I got itchy with hives all over my body when I was very little, say about 7-8yrs old. My mother was also having the same issue. We then took 1-2 pills of Avil and then it gets cured. But when I was 15yrs old I suffered from severe itchiness and hives that lasted for about 3-4 days. So my father took me to a dermatologist who prescribed me to take Polaramine (one kind of anti-histamine tabs) for about 15days. When 15days were over and I stopped taking the pills, and once again I got itching and hives. Then I went to that doctor again. He told me to continue with Polaramine. I’ve continued it for about 1.5yrs then it got banned. When asked my doctor what to take, he suggested that I take Cetirizine. And from that day I was taking Cetirizine until last month.

But this time my husband forced me to stop taking those pills, as he knew that how much I got addicted to Zyrtec. I was also very determined this time. I then googled Zyrtec side effects, then I got know that I’m not alone. A lot of people are facing the same issue as mine. I’ve gone through various reviews, and some success stories. I’ve read each review on this particular site. I then I got very motivated. Which is why I’m writing this review– so that when someone else goes through it he/she will get inner strength go fight this nightmare.

I then stopped taking Zyrtec pills. Believe me it was very much painful going away from Zyrtec. My body, hair, and eyes got severe itching, hives, and red marks. The first 2 weeks were terrible. I started taking more and more water. Taking lots of water will help you a lot. I read about this in one of the reviews here. And someone wrote that the removal process will take 4-6 weeks. So I’ve decided to wait for that time. After 2 weeks the itching and hives get lesser towards the 3rd week and again some lesser about 4th week. Now I’m in 5th week of Zyrtec removal process and believe me now I’m getting a very little itching and that for only 2-3hrs a day. I’m still waiting for that day when I’ll get fully cured. During these days I’ve not controlled any food however I’ve read in some articles that taking food rich in anti-histamine will help you better. Also, taking cold water showers will help you a lot and you can apply pure coconut oil after shower to get the best results. Now I’m very happy–finally I’m going to be fully withdrawn from this horrible pills. I’ll never suggest anyone to take Zyrtec/Cetirizine. I don’t want anyone to face all those troubles I’ve faced for 14yrs of my life. I want everyone to try this.

Thank You for your patience.


After taking Zyrtec (now Costco generic) for 6 years to help with stuffy nose and sneezing I decided to quit the drug due to dry eyes & light sensitivity. I also experienced (and was treated for) acute back pain, muscle spasms,nocturnal leg cramps, urinary urgency, acid reflux & stomach pain, and hair loss during this time but attributed it to age. I began to experience malaise and became less social due to the symptoms.
Shorty after stopping the Zyrtec the back and muscle pain stopped and the urinary urgency subsided. The light sensitivity was less and and I felt my energy returning. This could not be a coincidence. I am now dealing with such intense itching that at one point actually considered going to the ER. After reading what others experienced with this drug I know life is worthwhile if I can live through the withdrawal. I am trying to ease off the med by taking 1/2 and now 1/4.
I am appalled that there is no warning on the label. This was a life changing experience. There must be a better way to deal with allergies. I think of this as an addictive medication and I must live through withdrawal a day at a time and wait for the itching to stop so I can live a normal life again.

I had a rash on my legs which reoccurs a couple of times a year and this has been going on for 7 years. I saw a new dermatologist and she prescribed Hydroxyzine .25mg 1-4 tablets in the evening and two Zyrtec morning. I followed her treatment plan for 8 days with little to no results. I stopped the meds three days ago and haven’t stopped itching. I haven’t slept for two nights and just now decided to search the web for stories of similar stories. At the very least I know I’m not loosing my mind. No more meds for me! This is the most miserable feeling I have ever experienced.
Thank you to everyone who takes the time to share their story.

You know, I think this website and you people are VERY important for the information available here – how many people does it take to be adversely affected by drugs before the US and Canadian government start making them truly inform consumers of the risks inherent in taking some of these drugs.
Thank you !!!!!

Bingo! I’m 70 yrs old been taking Zyrtec in varying amounts for 15 years. I would take it at night which helped me stay asleep as well. Three months ago a feeling of dullness and listlessness began to get to me during the day. I have started back on immunotherapy for my allergies which is helped that problem.
I tapered of Z for a month and didn’t think anything about it but I was having this itch on my hands feet and legs and arms for a while. I complained to my doctor. He tested my blood for thyroid deficiency, negative results. The itching has stopped now but I bet that’s what it was.

After carotid artery surgery in Feb 2011, I developed sudden itching, then hives, then swelling, lips, chin, ears, feet, hands, fingers, genital area, eye lids, and tongue, I have been to an allergist and dermatologist, taken Atarax, allegra, benedryl, even drinking liquid benedryl when my tongue was too swollen to swallow a pill, I am now on zyrtec, zantac and doxepin, I have been told I have acquired angioedema, I carry an epi pen at all times and have been told to call 911 when I give myself an injection, I must wear a medic alert bracelet and have instructed all family and friends how to use the epi pen, no one has been able to determine what triggers it, a visit to the dentist for a cleaning triggers facial swelling, and it has gotten so bad that my ears are so swollen they pull away from the head and the skin tears behind the ears, I have to go get a steroid shot and steroid prescription, I can not survive without antihistamines, hopefully the h1 and h2 histamine blockers together will be the answer.

I took Zyrtec for four years ago. Twice in the last 6 months I stopped taking it. Twice I broke out in a rash with itchy bumps on my stomach starting below my left breast down to the left pelvic bone. I did not realize there was an association between the rash and Zyrtec until the last month. My doctor placed me on generic Claritin which I began yesterday and have taken two 10mg pills in the last 24 hours. It seems that after a long period of time it is best to change out antihistamines. I wonder how my body will respond and will write here if the rash appears again.

I notice a definite decrease in urine flow while taking Zyrtec. Zyrtec helps relieve the hive reaction I experience to something every few weeks. I only take Zyrtec for two or three days at a time because of this side effect – just long enough to be sure the hive redness, swelling and itching are diminishing. If a hive appears while I am also experiencing an illness, I delay taking Zyrtec because I am in my 80’s and don’t want to impede the process of getting the illness out of my system. It can take up to 7 hours hours after not taking the morning dose to return to normal urine flow. I am curious to know if others have noticed this side effect.

Wow…. I started using Zyrtec as an “anti sinus infection” prevention in the fall around Nov. each year. Now, as I try to stop it, I can go 3 days and then have to take one. I never thought it was he med. I thought it was my body telling me I had too many allergens and needed an antihistamine. I would tell people that I always knew when to take a Zyrtec, my hands and feet would start itching.
I will try the Allegra as mentioned by one reader and see now if I can wean off. And continue to consult The Peoples Pharmacy for other helpful information. Thank you so much for this newsletter.

I started taking Zyrtec years ago for chronic hives and my Dr. eventually weaned me off of all meds except for one Zyrtec every day. I ran out of it a few months ago and thought, “It’s so expensive, I’ll try not taking it”, BIG mistake…my hives came back after just 24 hours! It was horrible! Now I panic when my Zyrtec bottle is almost empty. I’m glad I read this article today – I want to learn how to wean off this drug and live Zyrtec-free.

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