Children's Zyrtec Side Effects and Dosing

Give your child the relief they need

Allergy drug Zyrtec. Credit: Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images

Zyrtec is an over the counter antihistamine that is used to treat allergies in children and adults. The active ingredient in Zyrtec is cetirizine. It's a very popular allergy medication given that it only needs to be taken once a day.

It is used to treat indoor or perennial allergic rhinitis, outdoor or seasonal allergic rhinitis, and chronic urticaria (hives) in children ages 2 and older. Allergic rhinitis is the same thing as ​hay fever, or what many parents simply call "allergies" when their child is sneezing, has a runny nose, red, itchy eyes, and an itchy throat.

Types of Zyrtec

Zyrtec's product line includes tablets, liquid gels and dissolve tabs, as well as products formulated specifically for children. These include a liquid syrup and dissolving tablets:

  • Children's Zyrtec Allergy Syrup: This liquid syrup is a great alternative for younger kids who can't yet swallow pills or don't like swallowing pills. It comes in grape and bubblegum flavors, is dye-free and sugar-free, and is safe for children ages 2 and older.

    Children ages 2 to 6 should take 2.5 milliliters once daily. If necessary, the dose can be increased to a maximum of 5 milliliters once daily, or 2.5 milliliters every 12 hours. Never administer more than 5 millimeters within 24 hours. For children 6 years and up, 5 milliliters to 10 milliliters can be taken once a day depending on the severity of symptoms. No more than 10 milliliters should be taken in 24 hours. If your child is under 2 years of age, consult your doctor before administering this medication.
  • Children's Zyrtec Dissolve Tabs: These dissolving tabs are also a great alternative to pills. They're fast-dissolving and, like all Zyrtec products, claim to provide 24 hours of symptom relief. They are safe to use for children ages 6 and up.

    Children ages 6 and up can take one 10 milligram tablet once a day. No more than one tablet should be taken in 24 hours. If your child is under 6 years of age, ask your doctor before using this medication.

    Your child should not take Zyrtec if they have ever had an allergic reaction to an antihistamine containing hydroxyzine.

    Side Effects of Zyrtec

    Most children generally respond well to Zyrtec. Few children have to stop taking it because of side effects. The most common side effect of Zyrtec is drowsiness. If other side effects occur, they are usually mild to moderate. However, if you are concerned by your child's reaction to the medication, contact your doctor immediately.

    Side effects include:

    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Abdominal pain
    • Coughing
    • Drowsiness
    • Diarrhea
    • Nosebleeds
    • Wheezing
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

    What to Do If Zyrtec Doesn't Work

    Your child might not respond to Zyrtec. If it doesn't provide allergy relief for your child, look into alternative allergy medicines. These include Allegra, Claritin, Clarinex and Singulair. Don't forget about steroid nasal sprays, either. If your child is old enough, Flonase, Nasonex or Rhinocort Aqua may be prescribed by your doctor.

    See Also


    Zyrtec website. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from

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