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What Is Cetirizine (HCl)?

Cetirizine is an antihistamine, which means it blocks histamine from binding to H1 receptors. It can come in multiple forms, including:

  • Capsules2
  • Tablets3
  • Gels
  • Dissolve tablets
  • Liquid

ZYRTEC® Cetirizine Forms

Illustration of the liquid form of ZYRTEC® Cetirizine


Illustration of the liquid gel form of ZYRTEC® Cetirizine

Liquid Gels

Zyrtec tablet


Illustration of a white cetirizin dissolvable tablet with Z10 stamped on it

Dissolve Tabs

Illustration of a white chewable cetirizine tablet with CET 10 stamped on it
Illustration of a white chewable cetirizine tablet with CTZ stamped on it



What Does Cetirizine Do?

When you have an allergic reaction, your immune system produces chemicals known as histamines to fight the allergen, and these are what cause your symptoms3.

Cetirizine helps relieve these symptoms by blocking the effects of histamines, so your symptoms don’t develop6.

What Is Cetirizine Used For?

You can use cetirizine to treat many common allergy symptoms, including5:

Runny nose

Runny nose

Person sneezing


Illustration of a man with an itchy nose

Itching nose or throat

Illustration of an eye tearing up

Itchy, watery eyes

Cetirizine Side-Effects & Safety

As with any medication, you may experience some side-effects when using cetirizine. Cetirizine side-effects shouldn’t require any additional medical treatment, and may pass normally as your body gets used to the medication4. These may include5:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat

If side-effects become bothersome, speak to your doctor about other options.

You should also speak to your doctor before taking cetirizine if you’re5:

  • Allergic to any medications
  • Taking another prescribed medication
  • Suffering from kidney or liver disease

If breast-feeding, use is not recommended. If you are pregnant, ask a health professional before use.

When taking cetirizine, alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers may increase drowsiness, so these should be avoided. Be careful when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery.

When it comes to using cetirizine for kids, you should also consult a doctor first if the medication is for a child under two years old5.

Cetirizine Dosage Information

The appropriate dose of cetirizine is based on age and conditions5. Remember to read the label of your medication or speak to your doctor so you get the correct cetirizine dosage.

Speaking to a doctor can also help you determine5:

  • How many doses you need in a day
  • How long you should go between doses
  • How long you need to take the medicine for


Cetirizine FAQs

Does ZYRTEC® contain cetirizine?

Yes. Cetirizine HCl is the active ingredient in all ZYRTEC® allergy medications. Many of our products contain 10 mg of cetirizine to provide 24-hour relief from your allergy symptoms. ZYRTEC-D® contains 5 mg plus a decongestant and is a 12-hour product.

Where can I buy cetirizine?

Cetirizine is available in many over-the-counter allergy medications. Make sure you look at the active ingredients to find out if the medication you plan to take contains it. You can also find out where to buy ZYRTEC® medications, containing cetirizine, with our guide.

What can you not take with cetirizine?

Speak to your doctor to ensure it’s safe to do so if you’re on any other medications. You should also aim to avoid alcohol, sedatives and tranquillizers while taking an allergy medication containing cetirizine, as this may increase drowsiness6.

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