Skip to Content

Cetirizine Side Effects

In Summary

More frequently reported side effects include: abdominal pain, drowsiness, and fatigue. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to cetirizine: oral solution, oral tablets and chewable tablets

Side effects include:

Adults and children ≥12 years of age: Somnolence, fatigue, dry mouth. Insomnia reported with cetirizine hydrochloride-pseudoephedrine hydrochloride fixed combination.

Children 2–11 years of age: Headache, pharyngitis, abdominal pain.

Children 6 months to 2 years of age: Irritability, fussiness, insomnia, fatigue, malaise.

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to cetirizine: oral capsule, oral liquid, oral syrup, oral tablet, oral tablet chewable, oral tablet dispersible

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included headache (16%), fatigue (5.6%), and somnolence (5% to 20%). Somnolence tends to be dose-related and generally occurs more frequently with doses higher than 10 mg per day. Other nervous system side effects include dizziness (1.8%), insomnia (1.5%), and nervousness (1.1%). Post marketing reports have included aggression reaction and convulsions.[Ref]

Cetirizine appears to be more sedating than loratadine.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects have included dry mouth (5.7%) and nausea or vomiting (2.2%). Pharyngitis, dyspepsia, and increased appetite have occasionally been reported.[Ref]


Hepatic side effects have included rare liver function test abnormalities which resolved spontaneously following discontinuation of cetirizine therapy. At least one case of recurrent acute hepatitis has also been associated with cetirizine use.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects have included relatively rare reports of wheezing, coughing, bronchitis, sinusitis, and asthma.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects have included reports of maculopapular and urticarial eruptions. Fixed drug eruptions have also been associated with cetirizine.[Ref]


General side effects have included epistaxis (1.1%) and accidental injury (1.1%).[Ref]


Hypersensitivity side effects have included a case report of an anaphylactic reaction.[Ref]


Delusional thinking and depression has been reported in an 18-year-old woman started on cetirizine; the symptoms resolved once cetirizine was discontinued.[Ref]

Postmarketing psychiatric side effects have included reports of aggressive reaction, hallucinations, suicidal ideation and suicide.[Ref]


1. Barnes CL, McKenzie CA, Webster KD, Poinsett-Holmes K "Cetirizine: a new, nonsedating antihistamine." Ann Pharmacother 27 (1993): 464-70

2. Spencer CM, Faulds D, Peters DH "Cetirizine. A reappraisal of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic use in selected allergic disorders." Drugs 46 (1993): 1055-80

3. Lockey RF, Widlitz MD, Mitchell DQ, Lumry W, Dockhorn R, Woehler T, Grossman J "Comparative study of cetirizine and terfenadine versus placebo in the symptomatic management of seasonal allergic rhinitis." Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 76 (1996): 448-54

4. Salmun LM, Gates D, Scharf M, Greiding L, Ramon F, Heithoff K "Loratadine versus cetirizine: Assessment of somnolence and motivation during the workday." Clin Ther 22 (2000): 573-82

5. Takahashi H, Ishida-Yamamoto A, Iizuka H "Effects of bepotastine, cetirizine, fexofenadine, and olopatadine on histamine-induced wheal-and flare-response, sedation, and psychomotor performance." Clin Exp Dermatol 29 (2004): 526-32

6. Adelsberg BR "Sedation and performance issues in the treatment of allergic conditions." Arch Intern Med 157 (1997): 494-500

7. Campoli-Richards DM, Buckley MM, Fitton A "Cetirizine. A review of its pharmacological properties and clinical potential in allergic rhinitis, pollen-induced asthma, and chronic urticaria." Drugs 40 (1990): 762-81

8. Shamsi Z, Kimber S, Hindmarch I "An investigation into the effects of cetirizine on cognitive function and psychomotor performance in healthy volunteers." Eur J Clin Pharmacol 56 (2001): 865-71

9. Hannuksela M, Kalimo K, Lammintausta K, Mattila T, Turjanmaa K, Varjonen E, Coulie PJ "Dose ranging study: cetirizine in the treatment of atopic dermatitis in adults." Ann Allergy 70 (1993): 127-33

10. Breneman D, Bronsky EA, Bruce S, Kalivas JT, Klein GL, Roth HL, Tharp MD, Treger C, Soter N "Cetirizine and astemizole therapy for chronic idiopathic urticaria: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, comparative trial." J Am Acad Dermatol 33 (1995): 192-8

11. "Product Information. Zyrtec (cetirizine)." Pfizer US Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY.

12. Desager JP, Horsmans Y "Pharmacokinetic pharmacodynamic relationships of h-1-antihistamines." Clin Pharmacokinet 28 (1995): 419-32

13. Sannita WG, Crimi E, Riela S, Rosadini G, Brusasco V "Cutaneous antihistaminic action of cetirizine and dose-related EEG concomitants of sedation in man." Eur J Pharmacol 300 (1996): 33-41

14. Rihoux JP, Mariz S "Cetirizine. An updated review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic efficacy." Clin Rev Allergy 11 (1993): 65-88

15. Simons FER, Fraser TG, Reggin JD, Simons KJ "Comparison of the central nervous system effects produced by six h-1-receptor antagonists." Clin Exp Allergy 26 (1996): 1092-7

16. Breneman DL "Cetirizine versus hydroxyzine and placebo in chronic idiopathic urticaria." Ann Pharmacother 30 (1996): 1075-9

17. Spector SL, Nicodemus CF, Corren J, Schanker HM, Rachelefsky GS, Katz RM, Siegel SC "Comparison of the bronchodilatory effects of cetirizine, albuterol, and both together versus placebo in patients with mild-to-moderate asthma." J Allergy Clin Immunol 96 (1995): 174-81

18. Reunala T, Brummer-Korvenkontio H, Karppinen A, Coulie P, Palosuo T "Treatment of mosquito bites with cetirizine." Clin Exp Allergy 23 (1993): 72-5

19. Grant JA, Nicodemus CF, Findlay SR, Glovsky MM, Grossman J, Kaiser H, Meltzer EO, Mitchell DQ, Pearlman D, Selner J, Settipa "Cetirizine in patients with seasonal rhinitis and concomitant asthma: prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial." J Allergy Clin Immunol 95 (1995): 923-32

20. Pompili M, Basso M, Grieco A, Vecchio FM, Gasbarrini G, Rapaccini GL "Recurrent acute hepatitis associated with use of cetirizine." Ann Pharmacother 38 (2004): 1844-7

21. Calista D, Schianchi S, Morri M "Urticaria induced by cetirizine." Br J Dermatol 144 (2001): 196

22. Stingeni L, Caraffini S, Agostinelli D, Ricci F, Lisi P "Maculopapular and urticarial eruption from cetirizine." Contact Dermatitis 37 (1997): 249-50

23. Mahajan VK, Sharma NL, Sharma VC "Fixed drug eruption: a novel side-effect of levocetirizine." Int J Dermatol 44 (2005): 796-8

24. Kranke B, Kern T "Multilocalized fixed drug eruption to the antihistamine cetirizine." J Allerg Clin Immunol 106 (2001): 988

25. Karamfilov T, Wilmer A, Hipler UC, Wollina U "Cetirizine-induced urticarial reaction." Br J Dermatol 140 (1999): 979-80

26. Afonso N, Shetgaonkar P, Dang A, Rataboli PV "Cetirizine-induced anaphylaxis: a rare adverse drug reaction." Br J Clin Pharmacol 67 (2009): 577-8

27. Garden BC, Francois D "Cetirizine-associated delusions and depression in an 18-year-old woman." Clin Neuropharmacol 36 (2013): 96-7

Not all side effects for cetirizine may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.