The 10 Best OTC Allergy Medicines of 2021

Keep sniffles and itchy eyes at bay with these options

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Allegra Adult 24-Hour Allergy Relief at Amazon

"Beyond the pill’s record-breaking relief, it includes fexofenadine, a special non-drowsy antihistamine ingredient that won’t affect your energy levels."

Best Prescription-Strength: Zyrtec Prescription-Strength Allergy Medicine Tablets at Amazon

"You can also count on it to come through with long-lasting 24-hour relief."

Best for Kids: Children’s Zyrtec Allergy Relief Syrup at Amazon

"Recommended for kids as young as 2 years old, only one dose is required daily making the process extra easy."

Best Non-Drowsy: Claritin 24-Hour Allergy Reditabs at Amazon

"Whether it’s mold, dust, or anything else floating around, Claritin won’t let any of it bother you."

Best All-Day Relief: GoodSense All Day Allergy at Amazon

"this one has the active ingredient Cetirizine Hydrochloride, an antihistamine that can treat indoor and outdoor symptoms."

Best Eye Drops: Alcon Naphcon-A Allergy Relief Eye Drops at Amazon

"The formula combines a redness reliever and an antihistamine ingredient to bring your eyes back to normal."

Best Nasal Spray: Rhinocort Allergy Nasal Spray at Amazon

"One spray per day delivers enough budesonide allergy medicine to eliminate nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose."

Best for Nighttime: Extra Strength Benadryl Allergy Nighttime Caplets at Amazon

"It can instantly put you to sleep and treat your common allergies and cold symptoms at the same time."

Best Natural: LES Labs Sinus & Seasonal Supplements at Amazon

"All-natural, non-drowsy ingredients like Nettle Root, Quercetin, Bromelain, and Butterbur, which can help you stay healthy."

Best for Pet Allergies: Xyzal Allergy Relief Tablets at Amazon

"Give yourself some relief by taking tablets that were made to alleviate symptoms associated with animal dander allergies"

From pets to pollen, allergies are the worst. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to avoid the stuff you’re allergic to. Who can resist an adorable puppy or a lovely stroll in the park? To get your watery eyes, runny nose, and all other symptoms under control, you need reliable over-the-counter allergy medicines

Even though there are dozens of options available to treat allergies, the various options can be overwhelming. Allergy medications may promise instant relief, but they’re not all the same—some may induce drowsiness, while others may only treat specific allergies.

Whether you’re looking for natural ingredients or a non-drowsy pill that will keep you going throughout the day, these are the best OTC allergy medicines.

Best Overall: Allegra Adult 24-Hour Allergy Relief

Allegra Allergy Relief

 Courtesy of Amazon

When it comes to treating allergies, there's one ingredient that is head and shoulders above the rest.

“The best allergy medications are antihistamines,” Allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network Dr. Purvi Parikh told Verywell Health. If your eyes are starting to itch or your nose is running, the antihistamine in the Allegra Adult 24-Hour Allergy Relief can help make you feel better in as little as one hour. Beyond the pill’s record-breaking relief, it includes fexofenadine, a special non-drowsy antihistamine ingredient that won’t affect your energy levels. All in all, it’s great to know that this medicine can provide 24 hours of relief without getting in the way of your day.

Best Prescription-Strength: Zyrtec Prescription-Strength Allergy Medicine Tablets

If your allergies are all over the place, the Zyrtec Prescription-Strength Allergy Medicine Tablets were made for you because it’s effective in treating indoor and outdoor allergies. You can also count on it to come through with long-lasting 24-hour relief.

Zyrtec helps to relieve itchy, red, watery eyes, sneezing and runny, itchy nose, postnasal drip, and itching from hives, so the most common allergy symptoms can be alleviated.

What Our Experts Say

When it comes to Zyrtec, Dr. Parikh emphasizes the only thing to avoid is anything with a decongestant. “I would avoid decongestants as they can cause rebound symptoms, long term side effects and are addictive. Examples of decongestants are any allergy med that includes ‘D’ for example, Zyrtec D has a decongestant and plain Zyrtec doesn’t and is okay to use long-term.”

Best for Kids: Children’s Zyrtec Allergy Relief Syrup

Don’t worry, Zyrtec looks out for the little ones in your family, too. Children’s Zyrtec is recommended for kids as young as 2 years old and even though it’s made without sugar, parents confirmed that kids actually like the taste. Only one dose is required daily making the process extra easy, and on top of that, Zyrtec has an app called AllergyCast that can track your kids’ symptoms and show how certain factors like weather can affect their allergies.

Best Non-Drowsy: Claritin 24-Hour Allergy Reditabs

Claritin’s 24-Hour Allergy Reditabs are powerful and can relieve you of symptoms from over 200 allergens. Whether it’s mold, dust, or anything else floating around, Claritin won’t let any of it bother you. It’s the ultimate protection and you can take them any time because these tablets won’t put you to sleep as they’re reportedly the number one doctor-recommended non-drowsy oral allergy brand. To make things even more convenient, you should know that you don’t even need water to take this medicine. The tablets will melt in your mouth like butter and they apparently dissolve three times faster than other similar products.

Best All-Day Relief: GoodSense All Day Allergy

GoodSense All Day Allergy can handle anything. Unlike most allergy medicines, this one, in particular, has the active ingredient Cetirizine Hydrochloride, an antihistamine that can properly treat a variety of indoor and outdoor symptoms. From sneezing to an itchy throat and watery eyes, you can count on GoodSense and you’ll even have enough to last you a full year as there are 365 tablets in each bottle.

Best Eye Drops: Alcon Naphcon-A Allergy Relief Eye Drops

Itchy, red eyes are a common reaction to allergies, but luckily, this problem can quickly be solved with proper eye drops. The highly recommended Alcon Naphcon-A Allergy Relief Eye Drops are a reliable option as the formula combines a redness reliever and an antihistamine ingredient to bring your eyes back to normal.

Best Nasal Spray: Rhinocort Allergy Nasal Spray

For those who don’t want to swallow any pills or drink liquid medicines, consider the Rhinocort Allergy Nasal Spray. All you need is one spray per day as it delivers enough budesonide allergy medicine to eliminate nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and more for an entire 24 hours.

Best for Nighttime: Extra Strength Benadryl Allergy Nighttime Caplets

Have you had a long day? Do you want to just sleep right away and forget about your allergies? The Extra Strength Benadryl Allergy Nighttime Caplets can make that happen. It can instantly put you to sleep and treat your common allergies and cold symptoms at the same time. Get ready for some uninterrupted slumber and by the next morning, you’ll feel as good as new.

Best Natural: LES Labs Sinus & Seasonal Supplements

The LES Labs Sinus & Seasonal Supplements are ready to keep your nasal health in tip top shape. It includes all-natural, non-drowsy ingredients like Nettle Root, Quercetin, Bromelain, and Butterbur, which combined can help you stay healthy during allergy season. In short, you’ll never have to let a stuffy nose get you down again.

Best for Pet Allergies: Xyzal Allergy Relief Tablets

No matter how much you love your furry friends, life isn’t going to be easy if you’re allergic to them. You can give yourself some relief by taking the Xyzal Allergy Relief Tablets that were made to alleviate symptoms associated with animal dander allergies. Unless you’re willing to get rid of your pet, many say this is the only thing that works. Additionally, Parikh suggests “keeping the pet out of your bedroom and getting a HEPA air purifier.”

Final Verdict

Clearly, the allergy medicine options are endless and that’s a good thing given the various allergens in the world. You just have to be aware of your symptoms and grab treatments that fit your situation. For instance, if you’re always on the run, perhaps the water-free Claritin 24-Hour Allergy Reditabs are the way to go.

However, if you’re mainly allergic to animals, the Xyzal Allergy Relief Tablets should be in your medicine cabinet. Be clear about your symptoms and keep them in mind when choosing what OTC medicine to take.

What to Look for in OTC Allergy Medicines

Antihistamine: Is your OTC treatment even an allergy medicine if it doesn’t have an antihistamine? This ingredient is the key to fighting against allergies, but there are different types to be aware of. The antihistamine Cetirizine Hydrochloride found in GoodSense All Day Allergy can treat indoor and outdoor symptoms, while fexofenadine in Allegra Adult 24-Hour Allergy Relief is the non-drowsy component that won’t put you to sleep. Keep an eye out for these antihistamines in the ingredients list, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. 

Eye Drops and Nasal Spray: Pills and tablets aren’t the only medicines that can help with your allergies. Since reactions in the eyes often occur, turn to the Alcon Naphcon-A Allergy Relief Eye Drops. These drops can combat any discomfort you may be feeling without you having to swallow any medicines. The Rhinocort Allergy Nasal Spray is also a solid alternative as one spray can do wonders. 

Kid-Friendly: Allergies come at any age, but not all medicines are good for children. The Children’s Zyrtec Allergy Relief Syrup should be on every parent’s list as kids can start taking it at two years old. “Just make sure dosing is appropriate for age and weight,” Parikh stressed. “If you aren’t sure, speak to a pediatrician.”

FAQs

What is the best OTC allergy medicine for pollen?

If your allergies seem to be triggered during peak pollen seasons, a fast-acting antihistamine can offer quick and effective relief from symptoms. Allegra and Zyrtec are both antihistamines that can speed up symptom relief.

What is the most effective OTC allergy medicine?

The most effective OTC allergy medicine completely depends on what type of allergen is triggering your symptoms and the type of symptoms you are experiencing. However, antihistamines are considered the most effective option as they can help with both indoor and outdoor allergens.

What is the best OTC non-drowsy medicine?

Some OTC allergy medicines have a sedating effect that can make you feel tired and drowsy. Brands like Allegra and Claritain offer non-drowsy options that provide all of the relief without any of the sleepiness.

Why Trust Verywell Health

As a seasoned health writer, Isis Briones knows the importance of finding products that work best for you and your conditions. You can count on her to always provide a variety of recommendations from licensed medical professionals because she has tested and reviewed tons of products over the years to know everyone is different.

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