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  #1  
Old 11-18-2011, 08:59 AM
Yogurt Yogurt is offline
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Quitting Zyrtec - Withdrawal

I have a new fun adventure to tackle, one that I never thought I'd ever have the joy of handling, DRUG WITHDRAWAL. The EVIL drug, (if you couldn't read the title), Zyrtec. Yes, that wonderful anti-histamine is incredibly addictive.

My girlfriend is scheduled to see her allergist in ten days and he instructed her to stop taking Zyrtec prior to the appointment so that the results would be accurate. She has faithfully taken it for 5 years, and after stopping for two days you would have thought it was heroin. Her body was itching non-stop all over. I covered her with Aveeno Lotion several times and it wasn't helping. She was scratching furiously, causing bleeding, bruising, etc. It was horrific to witness the woman I love tearing herself apart. She was crying and couldn't stop scratching because it itched so bad. We tried Gold Bond Powder with some success but she couldn't get to sleep. I threw her in a cold shower and gave her two Benadryl. After this she was very distraught but feeling better, and she finally fell asleep around 1AM. Needless to say, this was not fun.

While this was going on I did some reading about Zyrtec withdrawal, and good Lord, this stuff is crack cocaine in a bottle. I read several sites about it and realized there was a whole blog (Stop Zyrtec, get itchy -- which has since been taken down) devoted to it. I was able to pull a few posts for the WayBackMachine, but a lot of it is contradictory advice.

So Dopers, what say you all, how should she quit?
  1. Should she ween off of it, reducing her dosage?
  2. Should she quit cold turkey?
  3. Have any of you successfully quit, if so how?
  4. Any words of wisdom of advice?

She did speak to her Dr. today who said weening wouldn't work and cold turkey was the only way.

I also read you shouldn't substitute/use Benadryl as it will only prolong the process.
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  #2  
Old 11-18-2011, 09:18 AM
Living Well Is Best Revenge Living Well Is Best Revenge is offline
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No advice, but for intense itching she might want to try the Benadryl spray. I've used it over the years and it's good stuff. That is assuming the doctor will allow that.
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Old 11-18-2011, 09:22 AM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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Is the itchiness just a side effect of going off Zyrtec, or is it related to her allergies? Like, if a person without allergies took Zyrtec regularly and then suddenly stopped, would they get those symptoms?
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  #4  
Old 11-18-2011, 09:52 AM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
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Did the doctor say just not to use Benadryl, or not to use any allergy meds? If the former, you could always try Claritin or one of the other OTC meds.
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  #5  
Old 11-18-2011, 10:17 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eva Luna View Post
Did the doctor say just not to use Benadryl, or not to use any allergy meds? If the former, you could always try Claritin or one of the other OTC meds.
She should be avoiding all antihistamines, as they'll all mess up testing. Same for steroids, leukotriene inhibitors, or other immune modulators.

Cool environment, Cool to lukewarm showers and baths, aveeno/oatmeal colloid baths, menthol lotions, skin emollients, avoidance of skin irritants like chemicals and wool, should all help somewhat.

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 11-18-2011 at 10:17 AM..
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  #6  
Old 11-18-2011, 10:21 AM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
Cool to lukewarm showers and baths
What's your professional opinion on near-scalding bathwater? When my legs were covered in mosquito bites, a quick shower as hot as I could stand would stop them from itching for several hours. I was told heat depletes histamine, at least temporarily.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 11-18-2011 at 10:21 AM..
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:26 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
What's your professional opinion on near-scalding bathwater? When my legs were covered in mosquito bites, a quick shower as hot as I could stand would stop them from itching for several hours. I was told heat depletes histamine, at least temporarily.
Might help some, but IMHO it might make the problem even worse due to increased capillary blood flow to the skin. This would set off nerves not already involved in the itch reaction. Also the OP describes a problem of chronic generalized itching, so histamine release/reuptake is already proceeding apace. Localized reactions from insect bites would represent a slightly different metabolic situation.

I'd tend to discourage it, but if nothing else is working, it might not be unreasonable to try it. I'd avoid 'near scalding temps' as it's easy to stray into 'scaling temps'.

The initial reaction to the heat would probably be much worse itching.

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 11-18-2011 at 10:27 AM..
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  #8  
Old 11-18-2011, 10:28 AM
Living Well Is Best Revenge Living Well Is Best Revenge is offline
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Doc: what about the benadryl spray? Can that be used since it's a topical thing? Or would that mess up testing?
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  #9  
Old 11-18-2011, 10:36 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Originally Posted by Living Well Is Best Revenge View Post
Doc: what about the benadryl spray? Can that be used since it's a topical thing? Or would that mess up testing?
Depends on the planned testing, but sadly I think it could skew some types of results a bit, so I'd avoid it. Of course the patient ought to ask the doc if it's okay to use it in the interim.

And since the patient's seeing an allergy specialist, all these sorts of questions about controlling the itch could be asked of the doc also, who should have some ready information and a lot more experience than I have with this issue. Heck, I'd even wager the doc has a nurse who's well-versed in educating patients about treating their itches without messing up the tests.

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 11-18-2011 at 10:38 AM..
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  #10  
Old 11-18-2011, 10:42 AM
Poysyn Poysyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
What's your professional opinion on near-scalding bathwater? When my legs were covered in mosquito bites, a quick shower as hot as I could stand would stop them from itching for several hours. I was told heat depletes histamine, at least temporarily.
I know when I had hives all over, the hot bath made it worse. Cool bath and calamine lotion helped some...use old sheets, sleep naked....
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  #11  
Old 11-18-2011, 01:55 PM
Yogurt Yogurt is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
And since the patient's seeing an allergy specialist, all these sorts of questions about controlling the itch could be asked of the doc also, who should have some ready information and a lot more experience than I have with this issue. Heck, I'd even wager the doc has a nurse who's well-versed in educating patients about treating their itches without messing up the tests.
Thanks for the advice everyone. The Dr. said cold turkey is the best, and that the symptoms are consistent with Zyrtec withdrawals. The plan is to end the dependency and never use it again for any prolonged period of time.

I would caution everyone before using is, especially now that it is over the counter.
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  #12  
Old 11-18-2011, 02:19 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
The initial reaction to the heat would probably be much worse itching.
Yeah it was awful, for about a minute. It's like my body got 8 hour's worth of itching out of the way in 60 seconds. Of course it sucked, but the ability to be sans-itch for 8 hours afterward was totally worth it :)
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  #13  
Old 11-18-2011, 05:22 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Originally Posted by Freudian Slit View Post
Like, if a person without allergies took Zyrtec regularly and then suddenly stopped, would they get those symptoms?
I'm just one data point, but I took it regularly for a year and a half, and stopped without those symptoms.
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  #14  
Old 11-18-2011, 05:51 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by Yogurt View Post
Thanks for the advice everyone. The Dr. said cold turkey is the best, and that the symptoms are consistent with Zyrtec withdrawals. The plan is to end the dependency and never use it again for any prolonged period of time.

I would caution everyone before using is, especially now that it is over the counter.
FWIW, I found out that with my insurance plan, if I get a script for it, I can get it from the pharmacy for free (along with about 5 other OTC meds).
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  #15  
Old 11-18-2011, 07:42 PM
kayT kayT is offline
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Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
I'm just one data point, but I took it regularly for a year and a half, and stopped without those symptoms.
Just another data point but I have gone on and off it several times with no ill effects at all. I realize this is just anecdotal, but all of the information I could find about "withdrawal" from Zyrtec was also just anecdotal.
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  #16  
Old 11-18-2011, 08:36 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Originally Posted by kayT View Post
Just another data point but I have gone on and off it several times with no ill effects at all. I realize this is just anecdotal, but all of the information I could find about "withdrawal" from Zyrtec was also just anecdotal.
Same here. My husband, friends of mine, and I have all taken it on and off for varying amounts of times for years, with no withdrawal/rebound-type symptoms.
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  #17  
Old 11-18-2011, 10:59 PM
Hirka T'Bawa Hirka T'Bawa is offline
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So far, I've never heard of someone complaining of "withdrawal" from the use of any 2nd generation anti-histamines (Loratadine (Claratin), Cetirizine (Zyrtec), or Fexofenadine (Allegra) . These drugs aren't "addictive" in the sense we are used too... My guess, is that she is allergic to something she sees all the time. These drugs are great at preventing an allergic reaction, so if she is allergic to something, these will prevent a reaction with regular use (not treat, but prevent. Take a while till they work 100%).

You say she has taken it for 5 years. It is totally possible she is allergic to something she sees every day, that she doesn't know. Possibly something like her shower soap, laundry detergent, or even something else she's changed in the past 5 years since she started Zyrtec (cetirizine). The only way to know for sure, is to take the allergist tests...

However, the other question... about using topical Benadryl spray... I would expect that to be ok as long as she doesn't use it anywhere near where they actually plan to do the tests.... However, I don't know exactly how sensitive those tests would be, so I would still suggest double checking with the office to see if it is allowed.
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Old 11-19-2011, 12:15 AM
Terraplane Terraplane is offline
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Originally Posted by Hirka T'Bawa View Post
So far, I've never heard of someone complaining of "withdrawal" from the use of any 2nd generation anti-histamines (Loratadine (Claratin), Cetirizine (Zyrtec), or Fexofenadine (Allegra) ..
Really? How much time do you spend seeking out people who've complained about it?

Big Link

Itchy.

Itchy

Itchy

Lots of itchy

I know there are people on the internet who will complain about anything but there seem to be an awful lot of collaborative stories here.
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  #19  
Old 11-19-2011, 12:23 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Originally Posted by Terraplane View Post
Really? How much time do you spend seeking out people who've complained about it?

Big Link.
How many of the summaries did you read? There's a lot like:
Quote:
tramadol zyrtec xenical 5-htp tramadol recreational use of tramadol ... easing tramadol withdrawal symptoms tramadol grapefruit juice mobic tramadol ...
Quote:
zyrtec withdrawal symptoms She pulled off the leaves and dried before being put to service. Very few days more we may gain some position of caesars ...
Quote:
All the nutrients except kayla are still, zyrtec withdrawal children. It deflects therapeutic wives in latency to its housewife patients and is also ...
Quote:
serotonin withdrawal and tramadol new tramadol check cod tramadol .... zyrtec renova levitra tramadol false positive tramadol pet meds tramadol
Compelling stuff.
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  #20  
Old 11-19-2011, 12:57 AM
Hirka T'Bawa Hirka T'Bawa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terraplane View Post
Really? How much time do you spend seeking out people who've complained about it?

I know there are people on the internet who will complain about anything but there seem to be an awful lot of collaborative stories here.
I've never actually SEEKED out people complaining of withdrawal. Unfortunately there isn't enough time at work for me to look through all the records of everyone who has ever filled a script for Zyrtec or Allegra from when they were RX only to when they went OTC, calling them, find out if they still took the medication, and asking if they had any sort of withdrawal symptoms. Maybe, if you were willing to pay an extra $100 on every script you had filled, they could afford to pay me to do the research you want.

However, if these "withdraw" symptoms happened in >1% of the population, I'm sure I would have heard SOMETHING by now, just based on statistics. However, I'm sure it is totally possible someone has some sort of problem after stopping the medication. However, I would want some sort of study ruling out other allergic responses which just weren't noticed first, such as new soap, laundry detergent, moving to a new location, dating someone with a new perfume, or the many other possible causes of being exposed to a new allergen, before I'm convinced it is due to one of the 2nd generation antihistamines.

Oh, and one of the most common treatments for allergies is to be "desensitized" to it... Unfortunately, taking an antihistamine can prevent proper desensitizing of an allergen. So, it is possible for you to be exposed to a new allergen while on chronic antihistamine therapy, see it all the time, then stop the antihistamine and have your first actual reaction to an allergen.... Get sensitized to it over time, and no longer have any reactions to it. And of course, people will blame it all on a "withdrawal" of an antihistamine.

Basically... Correlation doesn't equal causation....
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  #21  
Old 11-19-2011, 01:13 AM
Cyningablod Cyningablod is offline
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Originally Posted by Yogurt View Post
[...] The EVIL drug, (if you couldn't read the title), Zyrtec. Yes, that wonderful anti-histamine is incredibly addictive.
[slight pedantic hijack]

Your girlfriend likely wasn't addicted; rather, she had become physically dependent. The difference is rather significant, as no doubt Qadgop will confirm.

[/sph]

Now, having gotten that tiny bit of pedantry out of my system, I do hope she feels better very soon.

Last edited by Cyningablod; 11-19-2011 at 01:13 AM..
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  #22  
Old 11-19-2011, 01:18 AM
sandra_nz sandra_nz is offline
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Oh man, I took that evil drug for about 8 years, believing I had allergies that needed a daily pill, because if I forgot to take it, I had the most horrendous symptoms. I tried weaning, and it made it worse, so I went cold turkey.

Yes, it was absolutely awful, but do you know what? I no longer take zyrtec or any other regular antihistamine. I have a nasal spray I use occasionally (maybe once a fortnight) when my sinuses block up, but apart from that I have no allergies. I personally believe that the zyrtec withdrawal was causing the allergy symptoms, and I could have quit zyrtec years ago.
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  #23  
Old 11-19-2011, 03:32 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Triamcinolone Acetonide. Get your doctor to write a prescription for a one pound tub, and thank me later. If you don't have health insurance, don't worry - it's surprisingly cheap. It's basically very, VERY powerful hydrocortisone cream.

I say this from personal experience: I have mild eczema, and TA is a godsend when it flares up. During times when I had to use Zyrtec for a week or two, and I get the resulting itching in my elbow and knee folks, it's the it only thing that can stop it, and heal the damage quickly.

Disclaimer: IANAD.

Last edited by elmwood; 11-19-2011 at 03:35 PM..
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  #24  
Old 11-19-2011, 10:24 PM
Wile E Wile E is offline
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I quit it cold turkey and went on a prescription antihistamine because I was starting to have breakthrough hives while on Zyrtec (which I went on for the hives so it wasn't the cause).

By the way, my allergist said to avoid topical Benadryl. I don't remember the exact terms he used but it makes you more sensitive. It may be fine for bug bites or poison ivy but not for a chronic itchiness.
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  #25  
Old 09-07-2012, 11:23 AM
Vbeckett Vbeckett is offline
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Itchy nightmare

I'm on day 7 of quitting the generic form of Zyrtec. I've never been more miserable! The itching is crazy and I'm ready to rip my skin off!
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  #26  
Old 09-07-2012, 06:26 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
Might help some, but IMHO it might make the problem even worse due to increased capillary blood flow to the skin. This would set off nerves not already involved in the itch reaction. Also the OP describes a problem of chronic generalized itching, so histamine release/reuptake is already proceeding apace. Localized reactions from insect bites would represent a slightly different metabolic situation.

I'd tend to discourage it, but if nothing else is working, it might not be unreasonable to try it. I'd avoid 'near scalding temps' as it's easy to stray into 'scaling temps'.

The initial reaction to the heat would probably be much worse itching.
ooooooh, yeah, heat makes it much, much, much worse. cold works better. cold bath, ice packs, that sort of thing.

i really miss j&j's "no more itchies" spray. that stuff was great.

i had to do the no allergy relief thing to redo the scratch test thing. it had been about 8ish years. that's insanity! i have 3 cats. i had to schedule it around a long weekend vacation in the winter. i was not a happy camper and went through 3 boxes of puffs plus.

Last edited by rocking chair; 09-07-2012 at 06:29 PM..
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  #27  
Old 09-07-2012, 07:42 PM
Ignatz Ignatz is offline
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Gee, now I''m a little worried about my hopes of weening me off of fexofenadine, loratidine, and cetirizineand/or their brand names that I've been on for a few years. (Don't ask if they help because I don't know, as I haven't been off them.) I still have seasonal and environmental allergy attacks and had a bad case (sinusitis?) last week.

I guess I need to get patch tested again. Last time was decades ago.
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  #28  
Old 09-07-2012, 10:33 PM
lalala87 lalala87 is offline
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How I Quit Zyrtec

I tried for years to get off Zyrtec but had terrible itching any time I missed a pill!

My first attempt to quit Zyrtec was to go cold turkey. I made it ten days but then broke out in hives (even though I was NOT scratching). I decided that was not a reasonable option for me since my body was reacting so strongly and since I was in school at the time and had things to be doing.

The second (successful!) attempt I made was to wean myself off of Zyrtec by cutting my pills in half. I did this in a few steps:
1. I cut my pills in half for about six months or so.
2. I then tried cutting my pills into quarters, but the itching returned.
3. I resumed taking a half pill every night for a while.
4. I then tried taking a half pill every /other/ night. This resulted in NO itching for me.
5. Then, after some time (maybe six months or a year) of taking a half pill every other night, I decided I was prepared to go cold turkey.

I expected to have the 15-day detox period described on some of the blogs, but, to my pleasant surprise, I had only very mild itching (and kind of a warmness in my face) for a couple of days, and then I was fine. (That was three years ago).

I know how frustrating this incredible Zyrtec-itching is, so I'm eager to share the weaning method that worked for me. Lots of luck and health!
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Old 09-08-2012, 04:27 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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FWIW, a search using PubMed reveals that there are precisely zero peer-reviewed articles on Zyrtec (cetirizine) withdrawal.
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  #30  
Old 09-10-2012, 07:57 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Didn't see this thread last year, but I suspect that rather than withdrawal, the itching is more of a rebound. The body's reaction to whatever has been suppressed, all of a sudden it isn't, and the body overreacts -metaphorically going "WHEE - I'M FREEEEEEEEEE". It's a pretty common phenomenon.

Personal rebound: I've never had trouble with stopping Zyrtec (beyond normal-seeming allergy symptoms returning). I *have* had trouble stopping Prilosec (omeprazole, acid reducer); a couple years back my doctor had me double the dose, and when I dropped back down to 1 tablet a day, had a lot more trouble with acid than I had before I went up to 2 tablets. I wound up going back up to 2, then slpwly tapering down (e.g. one week, I skipped the second dose 2 days, the next week I skipped it 3 days etc.). And I've developed rebound insomnia after a single dose of a sleeping pill.

Re hot water to stop itching: I can't speak to something generalized like all-over itching, but I've used it successfully when my feet itch (occasionally due to athlete's foot, but more commonly as one of the ways my Restless Legs Syndrom manifests) and it does help. In the case of the RLS, it short-circuits the sensation for long enough that I can fall asleep. RLS, however, is a nervous system problem, not any kind of "normal" itch. When I had hand/foot itching due to gallbladder problems, I tried a hot bath.... which caused an IMMEDIATE worsening of already intolerable symptoms. Cold water was my friend that time. Made sense - the symptoms were a result of high blood levels of bilirubin (I think); hot water just improved circulation and therefore bumped the amount of bilirubin getting to the extremities.

Anyway - anyone experiencing antihistamine withdrawal / rebound, try tapering slowly instead of going cold turkey.

As a slight disagreement to QtM: I could swear that an allergist once told me that my kids *could* continue on Singulair (leukotriene reuptake inhibitor) prior to testing, but don't quote me (I may be misremembering) and DO check with your own doctor on that.

Last edited by Mama Zappa; 09-10-2012 at 07:58 AM..
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  #31  
Old 09-10-2012, 08:02 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Originally Posted by Ignatz View Post
Gee, now I''m a little worried about my hopes of weening me off of fexofenadine, loratidine, and cetirizineand....
Wha? you're on all three at once?????
For folks who don't recognize the names, fexofenadine is Allegra, loratidine is Claritin, and cetirizine is Zyrtec. It would be unusual to be on more than one at once.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:29 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
Wha? you're on all three at once?????
For folks who don't recognize the names, fexofenadine is Allegra, loratidine is Claritin, and cetirizine is Zyrtec. It would be unusual to be on more than one at once.
I was wondering about that too.

I've also never had any problem gettting off the cetirizine (I see no reason to pay name brand prices!). As a matter of fact, I've been off it all summer and have only just started taking it with the fall allergies.

Does your girlfriend wash the sheets often, I mean like every week, to kill the dust mites? Does she avoid allergens?
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Old 09-10-2012, 11:06 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
....
Does your girlfriend wash the sheets often, I mean like every week, to kill the dust mites? Does she avoid allergens?
Oooh - and if she does, what kind of detergent / fabric softener? Some folks really react to fragrances.

Of course the girlfriend in the OP went through all this last fall so it may not be germane to her any more, but still something to check on.,
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Old 09-10-2012, 11:16 AM
Taomist Taomist is offline
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Originally Posted by Ignatz View Post
Gee, now I''m a little worried about my hopes of weening me off of fexofenadine, loratidine, and cetirizineand/or their brand names that I've been on for a few years. (Don't ask if they help because I don't know, as I haven't been off them.) I still have seasonal and environmental allergy attacks and had a bad case (sinusitis?) last week.

I guess I need to get patch tested again. Last time was decades ago.

Yeah, if you're taking meds and you're still getting all those symptoms, it doesn't seem to be doing you much good.
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  #35  
Old 10-06-2012, 07:59 PM
tminusrex tminusrex is offline
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I only used zyrtec for 6 months but my skin is peeling like crazy and swelling up. I can't every close my right eye all the way. It itches non-stop.
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  #36  
Old 10-07-2012, 04:04 AM
madrabbitwoman madrabbitwoman is online now
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I use nappy rash cream whenever I get the itchies. Zinc and castor oil - don't know why it works but it does. ymmv
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  #37  
Old 10-07-2012, 05:05 PM
Yogurt Yogurt is offline
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
Of course the girlfriend in the OP went through all this last fall so it may not be germane to her any more, but still something to check on.,
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in....

After three years we broke up in January, but before hand she successfully kicked the habit. We thoroughly cleaned the apartment before she stopped taking them, and took QtM's advice and got some good menthol lotion, which was really effective. That coupled with avoiding anything and everything she was allergic to for two weeks, and she was Zyrtec free.

We would change the sheets every week, and she only used Tide Original. Her Mother used that while she lived at home, so it was the only thing we ever used, and she was satisfied with it.
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:34 PM
2blessings 2blessings is offline
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I am now dealing with Zyrtec withdrawal also. And this isn't the first time. Every time I try to stop I itch all over and get red splotchy rashes on my shoulders and legs. And I have only been taking 5mg every other day. I took my last Zyrtec on Saturday and the itching is so unbearable tonight. I just took 1/4 pill to see if it will help. A doctor once told me that the reason it happens is because the body is used to the antihistamine. And when you stop it, it reacts just like stopping any other kind of drug. Unreal.
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  #39  
Old 01-26-2013, 07:56 AM
Scared and Worried Scared and Worried is offline
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Originally Posted by lalala87 View Post
I tried for years to get off Zyrtec but had terrible itching any time I missed a pill!

My first attempt to quit Zyrtec was to go cold turkey. I made it ten days but then broke out in hives (even though I was NOT scratching). I decided that was not a reasonable option for me since my body was reacting so strongly and since I was in school at the time and had things to be doing.

The second (successful!) attempt I made was to wean myself off of Zyrtec by cutting my pills in half. I did this in a few steps:
1. I cut my pills in half for about six months or so.
2. I then tried cutting my pills into quarters, but the itching returned.
3. I resumed taking a half pill every night for a while.
4. I then tried taking a half pill every /other/ night. This resulted in NO itching for me.
5. Then, after some time (maybe six months or a year) of taking a half pill every other night, I decided I was prepared to go cold turkey.

I expected to have the 15-day detox period described on some of the blogs, but, to my pleasant surprise, I had only very mild itching (and kind of a warmness in my face) for a couple of days, and then I was fine. (That was three years ago).

I know how frustrating this incredible Zyrtec-itching is, so I'm eager to share the weaning method that worked for me. Lots of luck and health!

Hello, how long were you on Zyrtec for before you weaned yourself off? I have been on reactine ( same thing) for two and half years and have just discovered this drug causes withdrawal symptoms. I had got onto it for hives initially and the doc told me to keep taking it as long as I need it. And every time I tried to stop the itching came back so I kept thinking my hives were still there. I am trying to wean myself off with the half tablet every day for two weeks, I am on day 2 just now....I was on one 10mg every alternate day...but I am wondering if 2 and a half years is too long a time to successfully wean off the drug?
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  #40  
Old 01-26-2013, 11:18 AM
Rushgeekgirl Rushgeekgirl is offline
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I am so glad I read this thread. My little girl was prescribed Zyrtec for her sinus and skin allergies but I wasn't given any sort of information like this. She was diagnosed with allergies but the initial testing at her ped. didn't show allergy to any of the 100 or so allergens! It doesn't really seem to help much either so I think I'll see about discontinuing. We have an appointment for further allergy testing in February but nobody told me to discontinue before the appointment either.
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  #41  
Old 01-27-2013, 02:30 AM
Scared and Worried Scared and Worried is offline
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Originally Posted by Rushgeekgirl View Post
I am so glad I read this thread. My little girl was prescribed Zyrtec for her sinus and skin allergies but I wasn't given any sort of information like this. She was diagnosed with allergies but the initial testing at her ped. didn't show allergy to any of the 100 or so allergens! It doesn't really seem to help much either so I think I'll see about discontinuing. We have an appointment for further allergy testing in February but nobody told me to discontinue before the appointment either.
Hi. I have also stopped my five and a half year old son from taking the kids' version of liquid zyrtec. No withdrawal symptoms but I just used to give him a dose when he got a mosquito bite allergy. Thankfully I guess his body didn't get time to get too used to it. Now will just stick to creams only if they flare up again.
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  #42  
Old 03-21-2013, 01:03 PM
hanswang hanswang is offline
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Hello all. I've been taking Zyrtec for over 10 years. I was originally prescribed it to address what my doctor initially diagnosed as chronic dermatitis due to the sensitivity I was experiencing with my skin (red welts due to edge pressure or scratching...hives).

It wasn't until this past Saturday night (5 nights ago) that I learned that these are the same symptoms scores of people experience from Zyrtec/cetirizine withdrawals. I was able to take one 10mg pill from 1-3 days apart for most of those 10+ years and I occasionally read up on what other people were experiencing as well as pinging new doctors about it. I didn't really end up learning too much more than I had already known about my condition.

About 4 years ago I found that Costco had Aller-Tec by Kirkland (generic Zyrtec) was much more economical. I figured at one pill every 2-3 days would allow one bottle to last a few years. For the past month, I've had to up my dosage to one 10mg pill every 12 hours to combat the hives and itchiness. I figured it was the pollen given that I live in GA, so coupled with the crazy weather this year it kind of made sense.

So, reading up on my condition and cetirizine/Zyrtec, I accidentally stumbled upon people discussing withdrawal symptoms and VOILA! Instant enlightenment. Hours after my last dose I vowed I would never take it again and suffer through the insane itchiness and hives. Days 4-5 were horrible. So bad this morning I decided to take one Allegra-D (fexofenadine) and I haven't experienced any withdrawal symptoms since.

QUESTION: I only did this as I don't regularly take Allegra-D (fexofenadine) and am concerned that I have undermined my 5 days of suffering simply because it is an antihistimine. Does anyone know if this is counterproductive to me going off of Zyrtec/cetirizine? I've seen people speak to taking Benadryl as an option to ease the symptoms of Zyrtec withdrawal symptoms, but not much. Even less so in regards to Allegra-D/fexofenadine.

I've kicked smoking which was tough, but it's nothing compared to what I'm going through with Zyrtec. My utmost respect to everyone who has accomplished this incredible feat, whether via cold turkey or weaning means.
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  #43  
Old 03-21-2013, 02:47 PM
Mithras Mithras is offline
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So your problem is that you were incapacitatingly itchy. You took Zyrtec for many years with no issue. You started taking less and finally no Zyrtec and became itchy again.

For what reason other than you read about it on a message board would you describe your present itchiness as withdrawal and not your normal allergic response? And if the medicine has worked for you for ten years with no negative effects, why would withdrawal symptoms even matter (assuming they actually existed)?

Last edited by Mithras; 03-21-2013 at 02:51 PM..
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  #44  
Old 03-21-2013, 04:24 PM
DiosaBellissima DiosaBellissima is offline
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Originally Posted by Mithras View Post
For what reason other than you read about it on a message board would you describe your present itchiness as withdrawal and not your normal allergic response? And if the medicine has worked for you for ten years with no negative effects, why would withdrawal symptoms even matter (assuming they actually existed)?
Yeah, this is what I'm not understanding. My normal allergic reaction to most things is to get itchy-- like, incredibly, ridiculously itchy. During allergy season, I take a daily Zyrtec and it helps cut down on the itchy responses. When I'm not on the Zyrtec, sometimes I'll get an itchy fit and I'll have to pop a Benedryl. I guess my point is: I would never think the allergy medicine was causing me to be itchy, but rather whatever the hell it is I'm allergic to that's around and I'm no longer protected against.
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  #45  
Old 05-06-2013, 12:07 AM
jayne9632 jayne9632 is offline
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Day 5 of Zyrtec Withdrawal

So glad to come across all these posts online and realize what is happening. I have been on Zyrtec for 10+ years. I originally was put on them because I was experiencing hives/uticaria but did not have any other allergies. I experience the hives a few times and they told me to start taking this drug every day to prevent getting them.

Well, after years of taking these pills, I finally started questioning why I needed to take them every day. I went off of them for a few days to get allergy tested and when I went to the allergist he gave me a hard time and told me that people takes these pills their entire life, it's working so why am I trying to get off of them, etc. They first refused to test me for allergies but then finally did but only tested me for about 10 different allergens to which I was negative.

Those 5 days trying to get off the Zyrtec were the WORST of my life, I literally laid on the couch and scrated and got hives alllll over my body. I felt helpless and couldn't make them stop. And, I thought, wow I really can't live without this drug that's how bad my body is, I have to keep taking it in order to survive.

WELL obviously it's not, it's the drug or the withdrawal from the drug. Before I started taking this drug I didn't get random itching all over my body. So slowly but surely I've come to this point. I'm on day 5 of the Zyrtec withdrawal. For me, this time is a little different. I'm eating as clean as I possible can. I've realized that the initial hives could have possible been some sort of allergy to the food I was eating or drinking and now that has been covered up for 10+ years by this drug so just imagine how much damage has been done to my body.

The first two days were fine, day 3-today has been pretty bad. Today I have had some slight improvement. When I wake up I'm fine but then slowly but surely the itching will start and it is HORRIBLE. It seems to travel and I can itch in multiple places at once. The absolute worst is in places that you would never want to itch.

What I've realize is/how I'm coping:

- I'm drinking as much water as possible, when I drink lots of water it actually seems to help
- I'm 100% gluten free, dairy free, sugar free. I have an inkling that this is helping me so much more than the first time I did this. I've had some grains (rice and quinoa) but plan starting tomorrow to be grain and soy free and potentially nut free while I'm going through thits.
- I started taking Vitamin C yesterday and it does seem to help
- Hot showers for me work much better than cold
- I've started dry skin brushing (in the morning and before I go to bed) and then applying coconut oil that I've whipped into a natural moisturizer so as not to put any chemicals on my already having a hard time skin
- I'm trying to juice in the mornings (all greens for breakfast) and then eat fruit until dinner. However, from what I can tell I have the least reaction when I eat cooked vegetables.
- When all else fails, I find that keeping all my skin covered (long pants and sweatshirts) and focusing on breathing normally even when I'm in excruciating itching can bring me back to some state of normal.

I hope some day that there is something done about this drug, at a minimum there should be some sort of disclaimer about the withdrawal effects. I wish when I was put on this drug that there was more information out there like these posts so that I would have never taken it in the first place.
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  #46  
Old 05-06-2013, 08:18 AM
Mithras Mithras is offline
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It's hard for me to see how you were doing any damage to your body if you had no symptoms. If the Zyrtec was preventing inflammation, for example, you're not going to have the problems you would have from chronic inflammation. I'd guess that you're doing more damage to your body now than you were when you were on Zyrtec. And you were more comfortable than you are now, to boot. So why turn your life upside down to maybe but probably not get to the point where you were the last ten years when you were taking a pill once a day?

As to the warning label, what should it say? I propose: "Warning: Zyrtec is not a cure. If you stop taking Zyrtec and are exposed to allergens, you will have an allergic reaction."
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  #47  
Old 05-09-2013, 03:22 PM
jayne9632 jayne9632 is offline
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I did start to develop more problems, with my skin (eczema), discoloration of skin, etc. I wasn't getting hives every day or even often before I started the medication, I got them twice and went to see a doctor because I didn't know what they were or what was causing them.

I would hardly say I'm doing more damage to my body by getting off of the medication. I'm seeking out answers on how to truly prevent what's going on. Perhaps if I had been allergy tested in the first place, maybe I would learn I was allergic to X and I could just have stopped eating it instead of spending thousands of dollars on medication and swallowing a pill every day! I can't figure out what my body is reacting to while on them.

I'm sure the easy thought process is to just take a pill every day for some or most people. That just doesn't sit right with me.

Slowly but surely the withdrawal symptoms are getting better. I'm on day 9 right now and I'm in NOWHERE near as much pain and itching as I was in those first few days. The itching has reduced almost 70%. I seem to be reacting to foods with high histamine so I'm adjusting my diet accordingly until all of this drug is out of my system and I'm back to normal at which point I'll reintroduce foods, etc. to find out what's going on.

I do think there should be some sort of disclaimer that people that have stopped taking this medication, hundreds of people, have experienced DEBILITATING itching. If you look up other antihistamines I haven't found anything similar to the complaints about Zyrtec/Centrizine.
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  #48  
Old 05-09-2013, 07:21 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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This thread ought to get some kind of award for attracting new members.
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  #49  
Old 05-10-2013, 09:55 AM
Hermitian Hermitian is offline
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Just thought I would jump in as another (meaningless) data point. I have taken Zyrtec on and off for years. No reaction like those described.

I actually take Zyrtec-D every day. It has the pseudoephedrine element in it. If I stop taking that, I do have pseudoephedrine withdrawal, which is pretty much just extreme fatigue/sleepiness/irritability. I hate it.

Last edited by Hermitian; 05-10-2013 at 09:59 AM..
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  #50  
Old 05-30-2013, 02:09 PM
fhod_dj_x fhod_dj_x is offline
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I am SO thankful for this thread. I have been taking Zyrtec daily (occasionally missing a day) since I was 13. I am now 23 and for a few years I've been trying to stop taking the stuff to no avail, because I started noticing how miserable I felt if I went about 42 hours without taking one.

What those of you who haven't been taking Zyrtec regularly for years don't understand is the itching caused by missing a pill is INFINITELY worse than any itching prior to starting zyrtec. I actually started Zyrtec as part of a regimen to help my asthma and had no itching problems to speak of. I naturally grew out of asthma but I am still taking these stupid Zyrtec pills solely because I can't stop. I never even itched before starting them but now I have yet to go 3+ days without a pill since age 13.

I've already started cutting pills in half and have successfully gone down to half a pill every other day for about a month or two now. I know I wouldn't last 10-15 days without one even still, but I plan on moving to 1/4 a pill every other day for a month or so and then trying to quit. I will post back here and let you all know how it goes! I can't even fathom quitting from 1 a day, cold turkey for 15 days of this. NEVER take this stuff long term!!!

Last edited by fhod_dj_x; 05-30-2013 at 02:10 PM..
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