Afrin for Allergies

Is Afrin nasal spray a good medicine for allergies?

Afrin is not a good medicine for the treatment of nasal allergies.

No. Afrin should not be used for the routine treatment of nasal allergies. Afrin (oxymetazoline) and other over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays are very effective for treating nasal congestion associated with the common cold, but their use is limited to about three days. If Afrin is used for longer periods of time, such as for the treatment of nasal allergies, it is likely that a person will become dependent on this medicine.

Afrin is not addictive like a narcotic medicine can be, but a person can develop a dependence on Afrin. Chronic use of Afrin can result in the need to use the nasal spray frequently in order to maintain the decongestant effect of the medicine. The efficacy of Afrin then lasts for less and less time, and nasal congestion continues to get worse as the medicine wears off. It is common for a person who has used Afrin for months (or even years) to have to use the nasal spray every few hours just to be able to breathe through their nose.

Afrin dependence is termed rhinitis medicamentosa, and may require the care of a physician in order to overcome the symptoms. It may be possible for a person to slowly wean themselves off of Afrin, although prescription medications may be needed to accomplish this, including nasal steroid sprays or even a short course of oral corticosteroids.

Find out more about the use of OTC medicines for allergies.


Lockey RF. Rhinitis Medicamentosa and the Stuffy Nose. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Nov;118(5):1017-8.

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