My Symptoms of Zyrtec Antihistamine Withdrawal

Updated on November 30, 2017
Michael M Griffin profile image

Zyrtec worked great for my allergies, but I took it for too long. Once I stopped, I began itching all over. Learn from my mistakes.

Why Take Zyrtec?

What pushes us to take those little white pills? What are they good for?

Zyrtec (cetirizine hydrochloride) is a well-known antihistamine. Others popular brands include Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, and Xyzal. When foreign substances enter the body, a histamine response (allergic reaction) is triggered inside your body. These chemical signals are released and dispersed to the site of invasion to begin the inflammatory process, which manifests as short-term aggravation like sneezing, watering eyes, itching, coughing, or swelling.

Antihistamines, as their name suggests, suppress the histamines, temporarily relieving any sort of aggravation.

Zyrtec Has Helped Me in the Past

Antihistamines, despite the unhealthiness of their chemical nature, are quite useful. Let's say you are allergic to dog dander and experience all the classic symptoms—runny nose, wheezing, itchy eyes, and maybe an outbreak of hives. If you must attend a family reunion at a dog-owner's home, all you need do is pop a pill and your symptoms are gone for the day. For another situation, if you have recently been attacked by a horde of mosquitoes, Zyrtec will decrease the itching and swelling to a tolerable level.

In the past, I have had success with Zyrtec in situations similar to the ones above. However, one must tread with caution—medical doctors seem to praise antihistamines, prescribing them for bug bites, allergies, hives, psoriasis, and anything in between. While the drugs are useful on a short-term basis, they can become your nemesis in the long-term.

Years ago, I was diagnosed with eczema—turned out to be the result of intestinal permeability, or leaky-gut syndrome—and was instructed to take Zyrtec by my allergist. The drug proved useful in the beginning, reducing the inflammation of the rash and decreasing the intensity of the itching. The pill was small and easy to take, requiring only one per day. I continued living, though unaware of the hidden danger.

Zyrtec Side-Effects Guessing Game

Time went on. In fact, it went on for five grim months.

My condition began to worsen. The Zyrtec treatment became less and less effective, so I started to taper off, taking a pill every three days instead of every one or two. However, the eczema seemed to flare up at random times—badly. The rash would get inflamed and rise from the skin. The itching was unbearable, and my skin flaked constantly. My lymph nodes became swollen, itchy, and extremely painful. Wrinkles began to appear in my dry skin, making me appear ten years older. At one point, my condition became so intolerable that I skipped my college classes for weeks on end.

In my final week of college, trudging through final exams, I had a monumental realization. On a day when my condition flared, I could not stand it and took a single Zyrtec. At this point, I had been on a low dosage, tapering off regularly. To my surprise, within an hour, my itching and aggravation vanished. I was struck with the truth.

Antihistamines work like a dam—they hold the histamines back until you stop taking them. Then there's a rush of histamines.
Antihistamines work like a dam—they hold the histamines back until you stop taking them. Then there's a rush of histamines. | Source

Explanation of the Long-Term Side Effects

After researching for hours, I confirmed my suspicions that the Zyrtec was no longer helping my condition. The drug was harming me.

I took an antihistamine for five months straight. Thinking about it now, a year later, it is obvious; my histamines were being suppressed for so long that any interruption in my Zyrtec treatment would trigger a response. Think of a dam, holding back a river; sooner or later, water must be let through. However, if the river is allowed to build up behind the dam, more water needs to be released. My histamines were forced to be suppressed for nearly half of a year, so any attempt to taper off would trigger a bodily response.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Once I realized my mistake of staying on the drug, I quit cold turkey. This is where the infamous "Zyrtec itchies" overwhelmed my life. The magnitude of this itching trumps any bout of bad itching ever experienced by a human being.

Within a week, the most unbearable, intolerable, and intense itch overtook me—I felt as if I needed to scratch into my skin to reach my bones. I broke out in large hives. My lymph nodes swelled and throbbed. I scratched myself until I bled and red claw marks streaked my arms. I took on a widespread, red rash—like a blanket that covered the skin from head to toe. Terrible weeks passed this way until gradually, the condition began to stabilize—and finally recede.

When confronted with the possibility of Zyrtec "withdrawal," doctors stared dumbfounded; you cannot become addicted to an antihistamine. It is not an addiction, per se. Nevertheless, the histamine response is very similar to the classic drug withdrawal. My doctor prescribed prednisone, an immunosuppressant, which alleviated the symptoms for the duration of the withdrawal process.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

The antihistamines stayed in my system for weeks after I stopped taking them. It was, at most, two months before I could again rest easily without itching. The intestinal permeability was resolved later—it was a separate issue from the withdrawal. Anyone who may be having doubtful thoughts about the withdrawal, take a look at this Zyrtec forum, where you can read hundreds of testimonials. You will be surprised.

I would not recommend antihistamines to anyone with long-term allergies or conditions. For a day or two, the drug is harmless and helpful—but when taken for weeks or months, it becomes detrimental. Anyone with seasonal allergies or rashes (e.g. eczema, psoriasis, rosacea) should look into intestinal permeability.

There are many immune system boosters effective in improving allergies. However, the cause of 99% of chronic rashes is the result of intestinal permeability. There is a thin layer of cells that coats your intestinal walls, and this layer of cells controls 80% of your immune system. When this layer gets damaged in any way, your body starts to develop symptoms, such as severe autoimmune conditions. The damage to that layer creates an extreme inflammatory and allergic response, which is the reason for all the allergies, eczema or psoriasis that you might have.

Take care when following a doctor's advice. After all, they are there to treat, not cure. Zyrtec may be useful in treating the symptoms of histamine response, but getting to the root cause of the response should be your primary focus. In order to do that, you need to see a naturopathic doctor who knows about intestinal permeability. Only through the healing of the gut lining can allergies and chronic rashes be cured.

Remedies for Antihistamine Side Effects

Here are several natural remedies that may help you cope with the Zyrtec side effects, primarily the itching.

  • Quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory that does no harm to your body
  • Calming herbal teas (e.g. rooibos, mint, chamomile, green, ginger)
  • Vitamins and fatty-acids (e.g. vitamin A, vitamin C, omega-3)
  • White willow bark capsules [the natural base of aspirin]
  • Topical aloe vera gels and vitamin E gels
  • Essential oils diluted with castor oil* (chamomile, tea tree, geranium, lavender, eucalyptus)
  • L-glutamine (for healing intestinal permeability)
  • Cutting gluten and stress out of your life (to avoid damaging intestinal walls further)

*For topical use only. Do not ingest. Diluting before application is advised as pure essential oils are typically harsh on the skin and may exacerbate your problems.

Many of these agents aid in having a healthy immune response, with the exceptions of the topical gels and oils. The teas, vitamins, and herbal supplements do inhibit histamine production, but I felt that they aided my efforts to cope with the withdrawal.

Quercetin is a great way to lessen the symptoms, as well. My own chronic rashes got 80% better within the first two months of taking quercetin daily. As of the day I am updating this (May 21, 2015), my skin is 99% better, all because I understand intestinal permeability and because I have started to heal myself.

Regardless of any advice and remedies, if you have antihistamine withdrawal symptoms, you have a huge chance of experiencing that same unbearable itch. It's not guaranteed, but the probability is very high. I found that going cold turkey worked for me; throw away all over-the-counter antihistamines in your house as you will be tempted to take them to quell the itching. However, stopping all at once might not be right for everyone—taper off instead. Decrease your antihistamine consumption day-by-day, and at the same time, start taking quercetin to decrease the amount of itching you might experience.

If you start itching, it is a process that you have to endure; however, no matter how unbearable the symptoms become, you must always remember that they are temporary. They will pass in time.

To your good health! =)

Share your own experience!

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    • profile image

      richallen009 4 weeks ago

      I was prescribed XYZAL at 3 times the dose for hives, needless to say I could hardly function and quit it. I am now suffering with the itch and my lips seem to burn and twitch. Waiting on blood tests, and I am starting to really wonder about the allergy doctor.

    • profile image

      Erin 2 months ago

      I went through the exact same thing: itching and hives so bad I could barely go to work let along be functional! In the end, I ended up taking 1/3 of a Benedryl each day for 2 weeks and then tapering off of that. Totally quelled the itching, and because it's a different type of antihistamine it didn't slow my progress getting off of Zyrtec. Hope that helps!

    • profile image

      Chris 3 months ago

      By accident I found this site. I was in Chicago for a business trip for 3 days and forgot to bring my Zytec with me. Since it was winter I wasn't concerned (I live in Florida) as I knew I'd not run into any plant life outside that would trigger my allergies. What happened to me was unbelievable. The 3rd day we were on our way back to the airport and I thought I was having a panic attach. My heart started beating fast, cold sweat, terribly itchy and this horrible feeling. I was like Lord what is happening to me. I thought I was having a heart attack. Then I went over in my head what could cause something like this and I remembered that I hadn't taken my Zyrtec for 3 days. Went thru security and stopped at the first news stand and bought Zyrtec and within 30 minutes I felt fine.

      I'm completely blown away. I've been taking Zyrtec for 7 or 8 years! I really need to look into getting off of it. Thanks for your article! What an eye opener!

    • profile image

      Glen 3 months ago

      Thank God it's not just me! My allergist recommended Zyrtec a few years ago, and I've been taking a pill every night since. If I ever forget one night, I will know the next day due to swelling and random itching. I asked my doctor about the long-term effects of anti-histamines, but he just kind of shrugged saying that he wasn't aware of any, and that they seemed safe to take for life. Regardless, I had a desire to avoid drugs if I could, so I tried to stop taking Zyrtec a couple times. Each time, I had severe itching and hives all over my body, scratching until I was pink and bumpy everywhere. I thought I was severely allergic to dust or something. Thanks for letting me know that it might just be withdrawal from the antihistamine! I will now try more diligently to get off of these pills, but I am NOT looking forward to two months of this relentless itching. :(

    • elasre profile image

      mhamed 8 months ago from

      very nice

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      Gabby 12 months ago

      just long were you on prednisone and did you still itch some after stopping it??? I'm on a 10 day course for your exact symptoms trying to get off Zyrtec and I'm wondering if it will help once my regimen ends? Thanks

    • profile image

      Juliet 12 months ago

      It's amazing that you wrote this so long ago, and it's still so relevant.

      My story is pretty much like everyone else's here. I was recommended Benadryl 20 some odd years ago for sinus headaches brought on by allergies. I used them for a few days then stopped. That's when the itching started. I went back to the free clinic (at the time I had no insurance), and the doctor suggested Claritin, which wasn't OTC at the time. She had no idea what the itching was or what caused it. It's sad to see not much has evolved in that regard, though it hardly surprises me.

      Over the years, I have switched off between Claritin and Zyrtec. Truthfully, neither really helped my sneezing, itchy watery eyes, post nasal drip, etc. I just took them to stave off the itching for another 24-36 hours. All this time I thought the itching was another allergy symptom.

      The ironic thing is, I've been a huge advocate for natural remedies for the last decade or so. I was just never able to find anything on "all over body itch" until recently. So, I kept taking antihistamines with the hope some day I'd find something more natural to cure it instead of suppress it.

      Long story short, I'm on day 10 of going cold turkey. My medicine cabinet is stocked with quercetin, vitamin C, and omega 3s. Every bottle of water I drink I throw in a cube of frozen lemon juice and a piece of ginger and the low histamine diet is my friend. Plus, now is as a good time as any to get my sweat on with "It's only temporary!" as my mantra.

      Thanks for this post and for shedding light on this horrible condition!

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 16 months ago

      resident6B: Hello there! Thanks for your comment and your questions. My prednisone treatment was not for the Zyrtec withdrawal; it was for my skin issues, which was not the correct way to go about things. It cleared up my skin issues for the time I was taking it, but of course the issues came back right after I stopped. Prednisone crashes the immune system, and eczema/psoriasis are autoimmune conditions, so my condition was only temporarily taken away. I've found a much more permanent solution these days. But for your situation, I would not recommend to take prednisone/steroid packs because they can do more harm to you than good. Unless you're in a really serious situation, I don't think anybody should take prednisone.

      I would say to try out quercetin or turmeric, some sort of natural antihistamine that helps the itching but doesn't cause such withdrawal effects. Also, white willow bark can be very useful (the core ingredient in Aspirin, without all the chemical crap). A woman who I helped through a withdrawal said she had great success with epinephrine shots; I never tried them myself, but they seemed to work pretty well for her.

      I hope this helped! Keep it up, and never give in to more chemical antihistamines, no matter how bad the itching gets. It's only temporary =)

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 16 months ago from Texas

      This was a very interesting read, and I do take Zyrtec frequently when my allergies flare up. Voted up on your hub Michael M Griffin.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 16 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I warn my vocal students about using these products as they dry out the vocal chords. I didn't realize one could go through withdrawal after taking Zyrtec. Thanks a lot!

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      resident6B 16 months ago

      Hi there, I too am having issues with Zyrtec withdrawl. In May 2016, after realizing that Zyrtec was the issue with my horrible itchiness, I tapered slowly off the drug like many people successful in getting off the drug did. The itchiness still showed itself after going completely off it. In hopes to find a way to stop the itch, I tried Allegra-no help, Claritin - nothing. Finally a friend recommended Zantac. 300mg/day. Itching stopped. Curious about how Zantac worked on itching - turns out it's an antihistamine!!! BUT at least I'm not sleepy (the reason I wanted off the Zyrtec). Now as I've tried to taper off the Zantac to see if the itching has gone away, I get the itchies AND heartburn - GREAT! So my question to you was your prednisone treatment helpful in quieting the symptoms of withdwrawl? Or has anyone else had relief from an oral steroid pack to quiet the immune system?

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      anas 22 months ago

      I took an Antihistamine drug for 2 months, I had the same Withdrawal issues, severe Itching all over my body, I decided to go cold turkey, it was a living hell for me, I couldn’t even sleep, what is even worse is that the drug is sold without warning people of this side effect and this is not included in the medical literature, so doctors won’t help you, they will just advise you to take this drug for your whole life (Something you should definitely not do), thinking that the itching is caused by something else and the drug is just helping you. The first two weeks were the worst, I saw myself as a warrior fighting for my freedom from this drug so I didn’t give up, I started taking Chamomile and Ginger tea it helped a bit, you can google a list of Antihistamine foods that stabilize Mast-Cells.

      My life is back to normal after two months of fighting :), my advice to the people going through this, please don’t give up and stay strong, it will go away if you stop taking the drug, it’s not easy but it’s worth the fight.

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      Kelly 22 months ago

      Just thank you... I'm in the beginning of stopping claritin after YEARS of daily use. It's been awful, but now I have hope this is not permanent. I just need to get through it, and this positive outlook helps immensely. Thank you again for writing this!

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 2 years ago

      Hello vocalcoach!

      Thanks very much for your comment, and I'm glad the article has helped you! Personally, I haven't touched a medical antihistamine in almost four years.

      I'm not a doctor, of course, so I try not to officially recommend anything. However, what has worked amazingly well for me is quercetin. It's a natural antihistamine and I've experienced no negative effects in the last two years that I've used it. But if you decide to take it, please keep in mind that it's not an immediate solution. In my experience, it can take around a week of daily doses to see a significant change.

      I wish you all the best!

      Warm regards,


    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Yikes! I started on Zyrtec a few weeks ago. Glad you've written about the withdrawal symptoms. I'll be looking for something natural to take for my allergies. Any suggestions?

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 2 years ago

      Hi there, Greta!

      You're very welcome for the article. I always enjoy helping people out who have itching problems or skin problems. And it's always essential to be positive in these situations!

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I've done some research, and I've come across a couple people who said they've experienced vertigo during the withdrawal. Vertigo is also a side effect of Zyrtec in general. I highly doubt that any damage you've experienced is permanent, because the symptoms you're experiencing are just the result of your body trying to readjust.

      I'm not sure of any specific remedies for vertigo, but if you Google "vertigo treatment" or "vertigo natural remedies," you're bound to find something that can help. I hope you get over the withdrawal soon! Best wishes, and take care, Greta! =)

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      Greta SJ 2 years ago

      Can't thank you enough Michael for your positive and practical advice which is keeping me going. This is cold turkey day 5 for me. I took Zyrtec daily for 4 months before recognising debilitating side effects. The worst of these is intermittent vertigo which emerged 2 weeks. That woke me up and I knew the tablet had to stop. But having stopped Zyrtec now I am concerned that besides the crazy itching and swellings (my lower lip swelled on day 4 for 18 hous) the vertigo seems to be slightly worse if anything. Could there be permanent damage? None of the accounts I've read so far on hubpages or elsewhere menti balance and vertigo and is temporary worsening of these symptoms typical during withdrawal? Is there anything I could do to help myself, without more meds? Good wishes to everyone going through this.

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 2 years ago

      Hi, Stewart! Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you check back to this page, because unfortunately there's no way to directly respond to guests on Hubpages. That being said, I want to help you the best way that I can =)

      Now, the first thing I'm going to say is that I have absolutely no idea why you're taking gabapentin. According to and WebMD, gabapentin is a drug used to treat seizures. It's an anti-epileptic medication used to treat nerve pain caused by shingles and herpes. Google gabapentin if you need more clarification. Honestly, this may be one of your problems.

      I think the reason that it worked so well in the beginning is because it did something to your nerves - maybe dulled them, which dulled the itching. Or maybe it suppressed your histamine levels, similar to how Zyrtec works. I'm not sure how gabapentin operates, but those are my best guesses. I believe the reason it stopped working is because your body's nerves adapted to the dosage, and so you needed to take more for it to work properly. I'm not trying to scare you, but I don't think you're benefiting yourself by taking that drug.

      Now, to ease your worries, I don't believe that quercetin would restart the entire withdrawal process. You said that it worked before while getting off Zyrtec, so it's unlikely that it would cause such a reaction. It's also unlikely that the itching is a result of interactions. I take several herbal supplements, plus probiotics and other health remedies every single day, and they each do their jobs separately. It doesn't matter if they're combined with each other; they're still going to do their jobs and not cancel each other out. I can't say for sure, but your recent itching might be the result of an allergic reaction to the nettles or some extra ingredient in the supplements. It could also be the result of a recent stress-related incident, due to the release of cortisol, which aggravates the intestinal tract and increases inflammation.

      Those are my thoughts, and I hope they helped at least a little! If I were you, here is what I would do. First, relax, and don't panic or stress out about the situation. Second, wait a few days and see if the itching subsides. If it does, then you know your itching might be the result of an allergic reaction or stress. If you're feeling curious, then take quercetin again (if you experience more itching, then you know something is wrong with the quercetin). Now, if the itching DOESN'T subside after a few days, then I would strongly consider finding a naturopath or internal medicine doctor (internist). If they're good, then they'll know the correct allergy test and intestinal permeability test to give you. From there, you'll be able to know what you're allergic to and how to heal your allergies permanently.

      If you have any more questions, just let me know! My email is michael(at) Or, you can comment here, and I'll answer your question. Take care, Stewart! =)

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      Stewart 2 years ago

      Hey Michael

      I've been off Zyrtec for about 40 days. I've been using gabapentin to lessen the itching. At first it worked wonders, but as the weeks went on I keep having to increase to the maximum dose my doctors allowed me to use as the itching keep creeping back. A couple of days ago I started suffering from nasal allergies again, so I decided to buy some quercetin to help with that and combat my itching as I get through the withdrawal. As of today I'm itching again like crazy, like the first few days when I got off Zyrtec. My nasal issues have been solved immediately, but by taking the quercetin did I just relapse, and now have to go through the body readjustment stage/itching withdrawal all over again? To be honest, I also took Vitamin C and nettles as well. A member of my family thinks it more of a case that because I took these supplements at the same time with the gabapentin they all interacted and nothing worked, which is why I'm suffering from the itch so badly today. Just wanted to get your thoughts. I previously withdrew from Zyrtec for 3 months while taking quercetin but gave in to taking Zyrtec as the itch remained consistent for that long, although I went cold turkey that time. This time I had tapered to less than half a pill before quitting. I do have to admit prior to today, I think my itching had improved, it had to become less noticeable and I had been itching in the same spots instead off all over, every second. I really hope I didn't just restart this torture. I don't see how a herbal supplement could do that!

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      Gerry Allen 2 years ago

      I am presently going through antihistamine withdrawel. The itching can become intolerable but manageable. My brother in law who is a Dermatologist suggest that itching is the lowest form of pain. With that said, It seemed that a pain relief strategy seemed appropriate. I took an aleeve last night and got a good night sleep. I hope this strategy continues to works. It's worth a try.

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 2 years ago

      Hello Angela and Linda! Thank you very much for your comments, and I'm so happy that my article was able to help =)

      Angela, I'm very sorry to hear about your troubles. My dad was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when he was young, and his colon was so torn apart that he had to have his entire large intestine removed. Sticking to a gluten free diet and taking probiotics is a great way to go! Plus, managing your stress levels (cortisol levels) is essential for intestinal health. Also, it's definitely a smart move to start seeing a naturopath. My doctor is an internist, dealing with internal medicine (also called integrative medicine or alternative medicine), and is a thousand times better than an allergist. I hope you get your life back on track soon!

      Linda, I'm sorry about your son's hives. I know that they can be very difficult to deal with. Please keep in mind that I am not someone who specializes in treating young children. I have absolutely no idea what they can take, or how much of something they can take. I am only an average person who has gone through a lot of health issues, and I want to pass on my knowledge to other people who need it. I want to help, but only you and your doctor (or naturopath) know what is best for your child. Please understand that.

      However, with that being said, I know that the Bluebonnet quercetin is wonderful for easing allergies. Vitamin C and D3 and are also good supplements. But honestly, I don't think you should supplement your child with l-glutamine. The pills are way too big, and the powder is the worst-tasting stuff on the planet. Supplementing with glutamine is for healing intestinal issues and maintaining muscle mass, and I don't believe that your child needs something like that at this point. What I would do, if the hives persist longer, is to go see a naturopath or an internist (like I recommended to Angela). I would request an IGG/IGE Allergy Panel Test, which yields MUCH better results than a regular allergy test from a general practitioner. But again, I don't know the specifics of giving the test to a 4-year-old. I only know what has helped me, and others like me. I hope I've helped a little, and I hope your son's hives clear up soon!

      You are both very welcome! Take care, and please comment again if you have any questions.


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      Linda 2 years ago

      Thank you for this informative post! My son had been suffering from hives these 9 days the only thing that works is zyertc 1/2 tsp twice a day. I do not want him dependent on antihistamines for a very long time. I have already taken him to see the pediatrician and blood work was done, everything came back normal and a step test also came back normal. I'm have started him on a high dose of vitamin c and vitamin d3. I am going to get the bluebonnet antihistamine and l glutamine . I can not find any research of how much a 4 year old child can have with each dose. If you get this message please advise me on how I can help my child. Thank you so much!

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      Angela M 2 years ago

      Your article just gave me some hope. THANK YOU! About five years ago, I was sick a lot with colds and feeling blah a lot of the time, so I went to an allergist and did the scratch test and found out I was allergic to a whole lot of things outdoors. I started to get shots every week for ragweed and pollen and have kept that up to this day (I only go once a month now). My allergist also put me on levocetrizine and singular. I've been on them ever since. Throughout the years, I noticed that when I didn't take my levocetrizine pill, the itching was unbearable, but I figured it was because my allergies were that bad that i needed to keep taking it. So it started this long cycle of trying to get off of it, but not being able to. I went back to the allergist about a year ago to discuss this horrid itching when I wasn't taking the pill and he said "well maybe you are allergic to your dogs" so he made me go get tested. I was not allergic to my dogs (as I had already told him!), so he insisted that I need to keep taking levocetrizine because it was causing me relief. So I left very frustrated and after researching. I've realized my allergist steered me on a dangerous path, and I can't believe I trusted him. Never seeing him again. ever. Last month I split my levocetrizien in half because tapering off seemed like a better option than cold-turkey. A few days ago I stopped completely and it has been miserable. Itching like crazy, lathargic, etc. but you have given me hope and I am determined to stick with it. I'm still on singular every day, but I will have to tackle that beast when i'm done healing from my levo withdrawl. my body can't handle that right now!

      Also, you might not know anythingabout this at all, but I figured I would mention it. In January I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic autoimmune condition affecting the colon. That doctor told me diet had nothing to do with and prescribed me Asacol. I take it twice a day like he says. After researching and talking to lots of people, I have gone mostly grain free (with slip ups ever now and then because I mean sometimes Pizza and cake are just too good :) ) I still get flareups every now and then and when I don't take my medicine for a few weeks I get a flare up. It's frustrating because I would love to not have to take this medicine. I've started high-quality probiotics and hard core sticking to my GF diet.

      I am now thinking a naturopath might be a good path for me though. My body is definitely working against me right now!

      Thanks again for the post!!


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      Sabrina 2 years ago

      I have been on zyrtec for four years! I first started with an allergic reaction after putting my artifical christmas tree away after Christmas, my skin went into hives, i took benedryl for several weeks, i told my doctor about the itchness she suggested i take zytec because it had a longer life span, after that i wouldnt come off it. I went to an allergist a year ago they tested me for environmental it came back i was allergic to pollen, ragweed, dust. I was told to stay on zyrtec. I still didnt understand why when i missed two days of zyrtec i wanted to peel my skin off my bones. I started Googling this year side effect of zytec , long term uses of antihistamines etc. My doctor sent me to another allergist, i told him my symptoms and he came right out and said its zyrtec rebound! I was shocked! I knew something was going on with the zytec. I stopped staying zytec 7 days ago, i took flexrall at night to help my sleep and its only 5mg im really hoping my skin calms down at the 15 day mark. Thank you for posting your experience!!! I hope i can get off this nasty drug!

    • Daneen Davis profile image

      Daneen Davis 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for your willingness to help others. I have had Chronic allergies for 21 years. I received shots for 4yrs with no avail. I too went the candida route. I have leaky gut. I purchased the exact brand of quercetin prior to reading your article so hopefully I am on the right track. You are 100% correct about leaky gut. I pray more people will understand how to get to the root cause.

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      Bri 2 years ago

      This website SAVED me. I had NO IDEA what was wrong with me, nor did doctors, until I stumbled upon this website. I am 10000% convinced that my body was having a withdrawal from zyrtec. I went in for minor itching/rash and was prescribed multiple steroids/creams, none working, some even making it worse. I spent hundreds on medicines, lotions, creams, bath products, ANY AND EVERYTHING to try and take the unbearable itching and burning of the skin away. Anything listed in the comments on this site, I tried. After 4 months with little relief from zyrtec and the other meds given, I had a mental breakdown and was also put on an anti depressant because the itching had so taken over and ruined my life. I couldn’t concentrate on work. My legs were scratched and bloody in every place imaginable, mainly my arms, thighs and back. I couldn’t go outside and play with my child because the heat exacerbated itching. Couldn’t wear shorts or bathing suit because my skin was so embarassing.

      On May 26th, I went to yet another allergist. I told him my theory about the withdrawal from zyrtec – he did not believe me at all! Thought I was crazy. But he could see I had hit a breaking point. He advised me to stop all anthistamines if I felt they were making my symtpoms worse. In addition to the anti depressant, he also prescribed me Gabapentin – this is a medication they use for shingles, epilepsy and other nerve pain. My skin was not only itching, it was intense burning – which caused me to scratch at my skin. This medication saved me y’all. I could tell he clearly did not believe my theory but it didn’t matter to me because this medication is the only thing that brought relief. It did NOT get rid of the itching completely. It got rid of all the burning and probably brought the itch from a 10 down to a 3 or 4. But it was definitely manageable. I stopped scratching my skin enough for it to heal. I was able to save the last half of my summer and enjoy being outside with my toddler and family! I could wear shorts and bathing suits again.

      Without taking the medication, my skin would start tingly/burning, so I knew I would need to take it by that. On the medication, I experienced none of this and was even getting whole days of relief. At the 2 month mark of quitting all antihistamines, creams etc, I noticed a drastic difference in my need to take the medicine. It is almost as if my skin is almost better, even when not on the medication. As others have noted, I don’t know that my skin will ever be the same, at least not for a long time. But I have turned a corner in my whole ordeal. It completely ruined half of 2015 for me, and I thought my life would be ruined forever. But my body is slowly healing! I highly highly recommend the gabapentin if it is something your doctor will prescribe you. It is what gave me my sanity through the remainder of the healing process.

      I am so grateful I found this website – without it I would have never determined what the REAL issue was, as none of my doctors would even acknowledge it!!!!

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      Teresa 2 years ago

      Praise be to God! I had tried in the past to stop taking Zyrtec my head and body were so itchy that after 2 days I would start taking it again. After reading everyone's comments I prayed with all my heart to God - the father of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and I have not had any of the symptoms. He is the healer of our bodies but most importantly of our hearts and the Saviour of our souls. God bless you all out there

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      Plantboss 2 years ago

      Took one generic 10 mg cetirizine. Now, 24 hours later... the backs of my hands are itching. Not crazy itching but nevertheless, itching. I won't be taking another one as my post-nasal drip has subsided. What a crazy set of interactions.

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago

      Hey Carolyn!

      You're very welcome! I'm so happy that I'm able to help! I feel extreme sympathy and empathy for you, because I know exactly what it's like to experience itchy, painful rashes that get bigger and bigger. It's especially horrible when you don't know what's wrong with you, and you're relying on guesswork or the narrow advice of a GP.

      But now you DO know what's wrong with you. At first, it might seem a bit hard to believe, because I've just told you the reason for your 12-year period of suffering in just a few paragraphs. However, it is the truth ... and the more you study it, the more you'll understand it.

      Your GP (hopefully former GP) is more wrong than he realizes. Steroids do not treat anything except inflammation. Internal steroids will only make the condition worse because they suppress the immune system and degrade that layer of intestinal cells. External steroids do nothing for your condition because the problem is inside you, not outside you. The only reason he says "only steroids can treat eczema" is because he has no idea how to truly help you. He resorts to that conclusion because he was taught the outdated philosophy of GP medical school, which is SEVERELY incorrect.

      I'm glad that you're taking my advice to heart, Carolyn. I PROMISE you, if you find somebody who knows about intestinal permeability and can properly treat it, you WILL get better. Without question. No exception.

      And about your question, food is a difficult subject to talk about because we don't know how many allergies your Leaky Gut has caused. Seeing a naturopath and suggesting an IGG/IGE Allergy Test is the best way to go about this. It's a simple blood test. When you get the results back, you should prepare for a shock. The normal levels for that test are 87, and my own personal levels were OVER 2,000. That is not a typo. That's the reason why I'm currently allergic to 95% of all foods.

      You might get similar results, or your results might be totally different, but just know that the results are temporary. As you start healing your gut, these high allergy levels will go away over a period of time. I can't tell you what to eat because I don't know what you're allergic to. I don't know you personally, but I do care about you, and I don't want to get you into more trouble. What I CAN tell you though, is that you should avoid gluten, harsh sugars, any junk food, and alcohol.

      Hang in there, Carolyn. Don't let your condition tear you down. When I let my condition tear me down, it led to a nervous breakdown, and it almost drove me to suicide. Don't let it beat you, because no matter how bad it gets, IT IS FIXABLE. EVERYTHING IS FIXABLE. Your condition is NOT an incurable disease. It is ONLY a symptom of what's going wrong inside your body, and when you start healing yourself, you will start to see a change.

      Take care, Carolyn! If you have more questions or need support, you can always reach me here =)

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      Carolyn 3 years ago

      One more thing, apart from gluten, are there any food that we should avoid for leaky gut syndrome? And food which we are encouraged to eat? Thanks!

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      Carolyn 3 years ago

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share all these very useful pointers Mike!

      Sad to admit, I went to see a GP yesterday on my rashes (they are so itchy, painful, sore and hideous!), and he said it's eczema and not fungal infection. And he gave me Cetirizine antihistamine, and Steriderm S steroid cream for application. Told him the steroid cream only treat the rashes temporarily, and a new layer of rashes will form and encompass the old one. Just keep on getting bigger and bigger. But he just mentioned only steroid can treat these rashes.

      I have given up hope on visiting GP frankly speaking, will take your advice and find a naturopathic doctor instead. And I am going to research more about leaky gut instead of candida, and the remedies you have suggested.

      Once again, thanks again Mike for giving me the hope that I can get rid of this illness once and for all! :)

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      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago

      Hey there Carolyn,

      Thanks very much for your comment! I really hope you read this, because I have to apologize... I have not updated the article in some time, which I will do today. I have learned a lot since I've written the original article, and I really hope you find this helpful.

      The cause of your eczema is NOT Candida overgrowth. I have been through extensive testing since I've written this article. Eczema and psoriasis are symptoms of a condition called intestinal permeability (or Leaky Gut Syndrome). When somebody has a chronic rash, 99 percent of the time intestinal permeability is the cause.

      I apologize that I've set you on the wrong path, but I really want to set you on the right one, and to help you realize what's truly wrong with you. Trust me, I KNOW the horrible pain and suffering that chronic eczema can give you... I have been there. I've been to the point where mine covered 98 percent of my body, inches away from committing suicide, and dropping out of college because of a nervous breakdown.

      These days, my skin has gotten 99 percent BETTER, and it is getting better every day. I feel like a completely normal person again, and it is all because I learned the actual cause behind my condition.

      Carolyn, what you need to realize is this: There is a thin layer of cells that coats the lining of your intestinal walls. That layer of cells contains eighty percent of your immune system. When that layer is damaged in any way, you start to experience symptoms throughout your body. Your immune system starts attacking itself, resulting in an extreme inflammatory and allergic response, which causes your eczema.

      Period. Carolyn, there is nothing else to it. I've gone through years and years of guesswork, nothing ever making a difference (including the Candida diet). But once I got tested for intestinal permeability (and started healing it), I've had the biggest breakthrough in my health in years. I went to a naturopathic doctor (functional medicine), who gave me a full panel of blood tests and home tests. I found out that I had intestinal permeability, but not only that. I also found out that my thyroid was underactive, my adrenal glands were dysfunctional, I had a bacterial infection in my intestines, I was vitamin D deficient, I was allergic to 95 percent of all foods, and that I was stressed beyond belief.

      You need to stop going to regular doctors and dermatologists. They do nothing for you, but it's only because they don't have the knowledge of intestinal permeability. Most people think their regular doctor knows everything that's wrong with them, but that is a fallacy. You need to see a naturopathic doctor, someone who can give you blood tests and home tests. I've been to see general practitioners, dermatologists, infectious disease specialists, and allergists... NONE of them knew what was wrong with me. They only said it was eczema, psoriasis or hives, and referred me to another dermatologist. None of them knew the root cause, which is your intestinal health.

      To get you on the right track, Carolyn, I would say five things:

      1) Get to a naturopathic doctor, or an alternative medicine clinic. If the first one doesn't know about intestinal permeability, then move on to another until you find one who does. This is my number one piece of advice. I see mine once every month, and I am never going back to regular MDs.

      2) Start taking l-glutamine, an animo acid that heals your gut lining. At least 5,000 milligrams a day. Pill form is fine.

      3) Start taking quercetin, an herb that acts as a natural antihistamine. Once I started taking this, my skin got 80 percent better within two months. I get mine from BlueBonnet.

      4) For your skin, get a few bottles of castor oil and apply it whenever you need it. Try it on a small part of your body first, to make sure you don't get a reaction. I've tried dozens of creams, oils and gels. Castor oil is, BY FAR, the best for moisturizing the skin and allowing you to move normally. As a fair warning, it will ruin your clothes, unless you rinse them several times. But I think that's a small price to pay for having skin that feels normal. Without the oil, I can't imagine how I would have survived. (Note: when you wash your clothes, DO NOT USE ANY DETERGENT. It is BAD for your rash.)

      5) Get stress and gluten out of your life, as much as possible. Stress and gluten are two of the biggest offenders to that layer of intestinal cells.

      I know it's a lot to take in, but I want to spread the truth to anyone who will listen. I have lived for far too long in far too much suffering, and I can't stand it when other people are experiencing that same suffering.

      Carolyn, if you are reading this, could you please respond and let me know your thoughts? I really want to help you, and I hope I have shed some light on your condition. 12 years is a long time to suffer with something like this, and the suffering is all so unnecessary because your condition can be easily fixed. I'm living proof of that.

      Let me know any questions you might have =)


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      Carolyn 3 years ago

      Hi Michael, thanks to your article, I realised my eczema of 12 years is actually due to candida overgrowth. All my doctors diagnosed me with eczema, and I have been using steriod and prednisolone all my life, almost everyday. My eczema comes in the form of round, pastular, pusy wounds aka discoid eczema. It was only last year that these wounds evolved to red patchy rashes, surrounding an area previously applied with steriod. As per usual, the doctor prescribed me with stronger steriod and more doses of prednisolone. The rashes disappeared after I finished the prednisolone course, but bounced back once I stopped taking. In fact, it got worse and a new layer of rashes started forming around the healed wound. It was then I chanced upon your article and realised it might be candida overgrowth due to the long term steroid usage.

      I have been on the candida diet for almost 8 months, with occasional outbreaks once I deviate from the diet. Right now, I am suffering from a very bad outbreak, comprising rashes and pusy wounds. Have been applying antifungal cream and aloe vera gel but the itch and rashes seem to be getting worse. How did you overcome your candida? Any natural remedies and how long is the duration to see the results? Thanks a lot!

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago

      Hey there, Grant! Thanks for reaching out. I hope you get notified about this reply, or that you come back to check for it.

      First, I have to say that I know EXACTLY what you're going through, and I have a lot of compassion for you. I went through the exact same thing. I was also a college student when I was going though the withdrawal (and suffering with psoriasis/eczema at the time), and it was extremely difficult to push myself through each day. You need to know that you're not alone. Even though you don't have the condition I had, the internal itch of the withdrawal is unbearable and extremely tough to deal with ... and it's easy to think that you're the only one suffering with it. But trust me, there are millions of others going through the exact same thing.

      Second, I actually need to update the article, because the cause of my psoriasis was intestinal permeability and a damaged immune system. This causes allergies, as well, and I would assume that you were taking Zyrtec for allergies. If so, healing your immune system is the number one thing you need to do. It's a long-term process, but it truly pays off in the end.

      Now, you say that you've been going through the withdrawal for about 15 days, and yes, that's the average time it takes for a person to get over the itch. But everyone is different. I took Zyrtec once a day for 5 months, too. It's a bit hard for me to differentiate the withdrawal itching and the psoriasis itching, but if I had to guess, I'd say it was around 3 or 4 weeks before the bone-deep itch was gone. It could go away sooner than that for you, and I hope it does! But don't get discouraged if it doesn't... Just remember, it's only TEMPORARY. It's NOT a condition that will last forever, even though it might sometimes seem like it will.

      About finding relief, you're actually already doing some of the things I wanted to recommend (quercetin, vitamin c, b 12). But if you're not exercising, then I believe you should start (walking or light jogging), because exercising cleans your lymphatic system, which may help your body readjust faster. A low-histamine diet sounds like a plan, and I would also make an effort to avoid foods with a ton of gluten (grain alcohol, bread, pasta, pizza, junk food). The reason you should do this is because gluten destroys the layer of cells in your intestinal walls that regulate your immune system. So I would suggest trying to get rid of the foods with the most gluten in them, just for the time being to see if it makes a difference for you. Also, try to keep yourself busy. I know it sounds like a cheap tip, but it really does help.... Don't obsess over the itching. I know it's hard, but try to find something else to occupy yourself and your thoughts.

      Other than that, it just seems to be a waiting game, man. I went cold turkey also, and I personally think it was the right decision for me. But you could be different. Tapering off Zyrtec might be a better decision for you. You could take a half of a pill for a couple days, then a quarter of a pill, until eventually you're not taking any at all. Now, I'm not AT ALL suggesting that you should take three separate antihistamine pills... That was naïve, foolish, and flat-out stupid for your allergist to suggest. DON'T go back to them. Allergists, regardless of their profession, have absolutely no idea where allergies come from or what to do about them. Antihistamines are no cure for anything, and they will screw up your body even more if you take them over a longer period of time.

      Feel free to respond, Grant. Don't hesitate to answer back if you need more help. I hope I was able to help a little bit, but the biggest tip I can give you is just to realize that it's NOT permanent. It's just a temporary condition, and no matter how unbearable it gets, it WILL fade in time.

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      Grant 3 years ago

      Hey Michael,

      I appreciate your post. I have been suffering from this internal itch withdrawal since late January. I realized after about 3-4 months of taking Zyrtec daily that I would itch if I missed one day of taking it, and then started to realize that I was becoming very sensitive and immune to it. I started to experience reactions even if I took the meds only a little past the 24 hour deadline. Anyway, I've been going cold turkey for now 14 days, unfortunately I relapsed 21 days ago after taking an allegra after being allergy tested. Yesterday and today have been the worst since going cold turkey. My allergist prescribed me 60 mg of predisone, but I'm currently tapering off and have dropped to 40mg as of now. I have been supplementing on Vitamin C, B 12, and Theanine since I started cold turkey, since I saw that was helpful for some people. These past few days I also started supplementing Turmeric and Quercetin to help me find some sort of relief. I believe what we are all experiencing is mast cell degranulation, basically your whole theory about how we need to re-adjust to the histamine intolerance after being deprived of Zyrtec, Benedryl, etc. I'm drinking lots of water as well to try to flush out my system of this plague. Given the fact that I was only on this medication for only 4-5 months, do you expect this unbearable symptom to go away hopefully this week, like the case of many others? I know most in most cases it takes about 14/15 days, and it seems like many people have their worst days to battle right before the itching ends. I do not have eczema or any other skin issues, just the all-over internal itch. In addition, what else could I do to find relief? I'm a college student and to be honest I don't know if I can go any longer with this. Do you recommend an extremely low histamine diet and eating lots of anti-inflammatories? Maybe for me it's just a waiting game or something. By the way, when I went to the allergists about this issue, they wanted to prescribe me three separate anti-histamine pills to take a day as a cure...

      - Grant

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      A. Guilani 3 years ago

      I have seen the same effects of Zyrtec. Could hardly pass 48 hours before unbearable itch would make me take it again. But I have been off of Zyrtec (the generic one) for 10 daya now and things are looking pretty good.

      The main thing I did was to DRINK WATER. My theory behind it is that my body has become toxic and needs to purge. So I used all the home remedies I know to detox myself. Mainly:

      1) about 160 OZ (20 glasses) water daily infused with ginger juice and handful of berries. at least 4-5 glasses right after waking up

      2) morning smoothie with ginger, apple garlic and lemon

      3) eat mild and healthy beans like mung bean soup etc.

      4) Since last 4 days I am also taking Turmeric about 2 tsp three times a day. I have heard its very good in treating MANY internal body issues.

      5) Vitamin c at least 2k daily

      6) aloe gel topically whenever I feel itch or burning in my feet or hands. This has worked better than any oil or other topical ointment.

      For me all this is working very well. At this point I am functioning almost normally :-)

      Hope this helps.

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      Kris 3 years ago

      This may or may not help anyone with the itching as my experience was not withdrawal related but I hope my own severe itch remedy can help! While pregnant I developed PUPPS, the most horrible rash I could never fathom existed!! Most women must deliver their baby to get relief (it's thought the change in hormones may cause the rash). After tons of research I found only a couple remedies that work:

      1: Grandpas Pine Tar Soap. The easiest, best use for me was to keep a bar of it and a damp cloth at the ready. At any sign of itchiness I'd lather the cloth and rub on the area. IMMEDIATE RELIEF!!!

      2: Lots of lemon drinking water. It helps detox the liver

      3: Tomato juice. Any kind, I think the spicy has the best flavor. 8-16 oz a day also helps detox the liver.

      I followed these for a week and the rash was gone!!!!!! After the rash was gone I still drank lemon water regularly and the occasional tomato juice. Occasionally I get phantom itching and this routine nips it quick!!

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago

      And Jenny, I forgot to mention... Prednisone is an EXTREMELY strong drug. If you take it for too long, it causes horrible side effects that can be irreversible. I would really caution you against taking it more than once, but if you're suffering that much, then maybe you could try it for one more round.

      Please get back to me and let me know what you've decided to do. Take care!

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago

      Hey again, Jenny! You're very welcome! I just like helping people though problems like this. And I'm very glad you came back and replied =)

      Thanks for letting me know about your initial allergic reaction. I suspected that's why you were put on benadryl, but now I know that it was only a one-time allergy, which means you don't have to worry so much about intestinal permeability. Consider yourself lucky, girl =) Though if you want that allergy to improve in the future, then you should consider trying to heal your gut.

      But Jenny, I realize your symptoms are unbearable. Trust me... I know how horrible they are. They are miserable and torturous, and it can sometimes seem like there is no end in sight. I know it's hard not to get emotional at a time like this (because heaven knows I was going out of my mind), but try not to get so stressed out about the situation. Here's EXACTLY what is happening to you: since your body's histamine levels were suppressed so violently for so long, they are now flying out of control. You've basically opened the floodgates, and now your skin is hyper-sensitive because of all the histamine coursing through your body. That's why you feel like you have lice, and that's why you've got hives all over. Your system needs to re-stabilize its histamine levels, but as you've found out, that doesn't happen overnight.

      It wasn't as easy for me, because my immune system had completely crashed (due to my intestinal permeability). My skin was reacting to everything (foods, chemicals, materials, stress, environment, you name it), so it was difficult for me to tell exactly when my withdrawal period stopped. I took Zyrtec, once a day, for nearly 6 months straight. Thinking back, I believe it might have been 3 or 4 weeks before the withdrawal period completely ended for me. But everyone is different. On the forums I've checked, the average seems to be around 14 or 15 days. But please don't panic if you don't get relief after 15 days... That just means that your system is taking longer to re-stabilize your histamine levels.

      I tried to quit, but I had a few relapses. One day, I was going insane. I couldn't deal with it, so I took a Zyrtec pill, and guess what happened? ... Every bit of itching stopped within 15 minutes, and that's when I fully realized what was happening. I decided to go cold turkey after that, and even though I suffered like hell, I'm glad I did it. But cold turkey doesn't work so well for everybody. Maybe tapering off would be a better choice for you. Take one half of a benadryl pill, then wait a couple days and take the other half. Then wait 4 days and take another half, then another 4 days and take a quarter of a pill, until you're not taking any at all. I admit that it's not the best strategy, but it will help you get some relief from the itching while allowing your levels to stabilize.

      If you really are opposed to taking another antihistamine (which I understand), then try quercetin and taper off that instead. It's a simple herb, and it does nothing to harm you. I'm sure that it won't worsen the withdrawal, but ultimately, you need to let your body re-stabilize its histamine.

      This means that you've got a couple choices. Either you can go cold turkey, you can taper off benadryl, or you can taper off quercetin. Cold turkey will cause the most suffering, but it should be quicker. Tapering off will take longer, but it should be less torturous. If you choose tapering off though, I would go the quercetin route.

      Don't give up, Jenny! You could very well be near the end. Just hang in there, because no matter how unbearable it gets, it's not permanent. Your body WILL re-stabilize your histamine levels at some point, so don't lose hope!

      I'm always here, if you need someone to talk to. I could give you my email if you want to talk more personally, but if not, you can always find me on Hubpages. Take care, girl =)

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      jenny 3 years ago

      michael, thank you so much for your reply and especially your original article! i was put on benadryl for an allergic reaction, but i continued taking it far longer than i should. the original allergy has long been out of my system. whenever i would finally stop taking benadryl a few bumps would appear here and there and i would start getting itchy after a day or 2, so i would start taking benadryl again. in exagerated doses because i did not want the allergy to come back. after reading gour articke and several forums on peoples pharmacy, i realise that it was the antihistame "withdrawal" causing the bumps and itchyness. so i finally stopped cold turkey and that is when all hell broke loose. hives all over, unbearable itching. my scalp starting itching so bad i thought i had lice. i couldn't sit still. so i went to the doctor and they gave me prednisone. they wanted me to keep taking benadryl ir claritin but i wont touch the stuff again. so now i am suffering through the withdrawals and i feel like there is no end in sight. i am miserable, i can't function. how lkng was it until gou started feeling relief and were able to kive somewhat normally again? i am scared fo take quercitine because i don't want anymore antihistames in my system prolonging this horrible torture. i am at my wits end. i feel like taking prednisone until the symptoms start to subside will be the only thing to get me through this, but i am running out

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago

      Hey there, Jenny. I understand what you're going through, and I would love nothing more than to help you through your situation. But please understand that I'm no doctor, just someone who's been through this crap before.

      If you're reading this, I'd like to know why you were put on high doses of benadryl. I can't be sure, but I'm assuming it was for either allergies or hives, since that's usually what benadryl is used for. If it was for allergies or hives, your original reaction was because of an immune system response. 80% of your immune system is held within your intestinal lining, and when it's compromised, it causes allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases (like psoriasis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc). It's called intestinal permeability. Mega-doses of l-glutamine (over 5000 mg a day) and colostrum help with healing the gut lining over time, and that's how you can stop your allergies for good. But keep in mind that's a long-term strategy.

      To help you with your immediate problem, BUY QUERCETIN AND TAKE IT. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine that does absolute wonders for allergic responses. Take it from me, it's a godsend. People use it for hives and itching all the time. The quercetin from BlueBonnet is the one I recommend. But don't take it for one day and then give up. You MUST take it for a few days to a few weeks before you see improvement. Everyone is different. Some people see improvement in months. I personally saw improvement in the first week.

      Prednisone only worsens gut health, because it suppresses the immune system immensely. If it didn't help that much the first round, then don't take it again. It's only a temporary solution. Stick to the quercetin, and you should be fine.

      But as an extra tip, get an appointment with a naturopathic doctor who works with functional medicine. The traditional medical practitioner will have absolutely no idea about gut lining or intestinal permeability. My naturopath saved my life, so I owe everything to this kind of medical approach.

      I really hope you read this, and I really hope it helps you. Don't lose hope. We're all in this together =)

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      jenny 3 years ago

      i'm hoping someone can give me some kind of hope. i was taking very high doses of benadryl several times a day for about 2 months and when i stopped cold turkey i got the same symptoms. the itching has been UNBEARABLE. i am on week 2 and no end in sight. i was put on prednisone, but even with that the itching is still incredibly intense. i have hives all over and they show no signs of going away. i have 2 days left of prednisone and am terrified at the prospect of having to deal with the itch once i run out, since it is only slightly bearable now. how much longer will i have to endure this?

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      Me Bigglesworth 3 years ago

      People might try a low histamine diet who are desperate very desperate. I am on one for mastocytosis but I think some people use it as a natural cure for allergies. It's working me so I was taking a break from xyzal as I'm allergic to antihistamines :( and I feel jittery and dizzy and have a killer headache now for three days. Thanks for the article! Very helpful!

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      Michelle Jamal 3 years ago from middle east

      Very interesting have been taking zyrtec forvabout 20 years,, for allergies ,,if i stop for few days the itching starts,,so i start again,ci never thought of stopping completely but you have really made me think,,,,

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      Tina 3 years ago

      I also have experienced itching when I was out of zyrtec for about a week. I realized it was probably the zyrtec so I started taking them again. Has anyone else had other symptoms from withdrawal such as dizzy, upset stomach, diarrhea? I almost feel as if I have motion sickness.

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago

      Hey Aniya,

      I'm not sure if you'll get a notification that I've responded, because you're a guest user. However, I hope this reaches you!

      First off, I've gotta say that I'm not a doctor. Although, I've got enough personal experience for a little advisement =) The first thing you have to do is relax and don't let the itch get to you. It's maddening, I know, and it might seem like torture....but don't stress over it. It doesn't do any good.

      Now, you've obviously got several things going on... You've got hives, shingles, itching and thyroid problems. This tells me you need MUCH MUCH more than just Zyrtec and thyroid medication. Whoever put you on those meds clearly doesn't know what they're doing. My aunt has been on Synthroid, which is a thyroid medication, her whole life...and it's really starting to give her some major health problems.

      What I'm going to advise is that you see a good naturopathic doctor. This isn't some regular old run-of-the-mill MD or dermatologist that will just give you medications that cover up your problems. A naturopathic doctor deals with functional medicine, which gets to the ROOT of your problems and treats you from the inside out. For example, NOBODY should be on thyroid medication. What functional medicine will do is treat your immune system and figure out the UNDERLYING CAUSE of your problems, such as your hives and itching and thyroid issues.

      Now, I'm not sure about mustard oil for itching. If gold bond lotion seems to work, then keep using it. But the question is, how long have you been taking Zyrtec? If you were taking Zyrtec for itching in the first place, then there is another problem besides Zyrtec withdrawal. In fact, thyroid problems might actually be the cause of your itching.

      I really sympathize and empathize with you. I know that health problems like these aren't easy, but please take my advice and see a good naturopathic doctor who can get to the root of your problems. You don't have to live with thyroid problems or itching for the rest of your life. Trust me... Get an appointment with a good ND. If the first doesn't work out for you, then see another one. The point is, functional medicine is better than conventional medicine, because functional doesn't cover up the problem.

      I hope I was able to help. Hang in there =)

    • profile image

      Aniya 3 years ago

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for sharing. 3 weeks ago I had the hives and a shingles

      And after I got off Zyrtec the itching is unbearable so now I'm taking Zyrtec every 24 hours and realize that itching in my arms thighs and back is unbearable.

      I use the gold bond medicated lotion to relieve the itch. I also take thyroid medicine every day.

      Please advise if mustard oil is helpful relieving the itch. Thanks.

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 3 years ago


      I wasn't, in any way, denying the drug's usefulness. As I said, it can be helpful in tight situations, and can of course be used to stop a person from having a life-threatening allergy attack. I did try to give it an honest review.

      I was simply cautioning against taking it for long periods of time, which causes long-term histamine suppression and does unnatural things to your body. This being said, I am not basing my advice solely on my own experience, but from hundreds who have gone through the same. Searching forums can reveal countless stories.

      I have used Zyrtec on the short-term, and it has helped me very much. But on the other hand, long-term usage has proven to be unwise. This is why I advise people to treat their long-term allergies through other means, such as boosting your immune system.

      No, I am not a doctor. However, in my own life, I have found that personal experience can sometimes be worth more than medical advisement.

    • Suzanne Sullivan profile image

      Suzanne Sullivan 3 years ago from New Jersey

      Before these drugs are made available to you, they undergo scientific testing. After they are made available to you, the results of that testing are published for your information. Doctors prescribe medication weighing the risks and benefits for each situation. No drug or herbal remedy is free of side effects. All of that being said, this medication can be life saving. I found your article naïve, inaccurate and irresponsible. I am not invalidating your experience. I am telling you that your experience does not equate medical expertise or scientific research. You offer advice here based on one experience. Conduct a randomized double blind study and publish the results and I will consider your opinion when I make a choice about my medication. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Abdul 3 years ago

      Dear friends,

      I am living in chennai,it's a one of the biggest city in india.

      I have itching problem for every 2 days.So i am always taking citrizine tablet whenever itching occurs.

      who are all affected this itching problems.pls don't take citrizine medicine always.

      Please take the following HOMEOPATHY medicine

      Step 1: Take Nux Vomica - 200 - 5ml (liquid).Add one drop in water take 4 times per days.(Morning,afternoon,evening,night).You should take for 2 days.It will clear previous medicine chemicals in your body.

      Step 2:Take Apis Mellifica - 30 - 5ml (liquid) .Add one drop in water take 4 times per days.(Morning,afternoon,evening,night).You should take for 2 days.It will helps to prevent itching & swelling in your body.

      Step 3: Bio Combination Salts -No. 20 - 100 grams

      For Adults : 4 tablets every three hours or four times a day.

      Children : Half of the adult's dose.

      It cures:

      Acne, chaps and cracks, whitlow, eczema, eruptions on the scalp, seborrhoea, psoriasis, herpes, and similar eruptive diseases. It is also indicated in post-operative adhesion and sycotic excrescences.

      After taking the above medicines.

      Finally you will be cured permanently without taking citrizine.

      Homeopathy is the slowly curing medicine.But its give permanent solution.

      Dear friends

      Pls pass this information , who are all affected by itching, swelling & Citrizine users.


      Abdul kadhar.

      Country : INDIA

      Current city : Chennai

    • profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago

      Three years ago I was sent to my Allergist for having bronchitis and a terrible sinus infection. They recommended I take zyrtec for about a week or until allergy season was over. So I did that for about a month and sure enough I stopped taking it thinking everything would be okay. 24 hours after taking my last pill I got this unbearable itching. An invisible rash it felt like that eventually turned into hives and my skin had terrible inflammation. Two days went on and I took a zyrtec to see if this hell would end and sure enough it did. I went to my allergist and my regular doctor and asked them about this and they told me there's nothing I can do about it. So now, three years later here I am wasting money on this pill just so I don't scratch myself to death.

    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Interesting and disturbing. Seems that anything with such withdrawal effects should be regulated, not over the counter. Certainly medical professionals should be aware of the dangers and symptoms. I have taken zyrtec for quite a while, but when I run out of it I just have itchy eyes and other regular allergy symptoms again. I guess I am fortunate.

    • profile image

      Melissa 3 years ago

      This is so weird. I've been itching like crazy, but not to the same extent as you. Mine is contained to mostly my arms and legs. But I was taking Zyrtec-D for year-round allergies. I have to admit that I got a horrible cold/flu/allergy-attack-on-steroids last week... And someone mentioned fatigue...That's there too. Man I don't know what's going on with these things, but I'm sure hoping I can find something to alleviate the "withdrawal" symptoms soon and something to help the allergies sooner!

    • profile image

      chrisupi007 3 years ago

      I experienced exactly the same, but worse and with fatigue, thanx for the article!

    • profile image

      Lindsey 3 years ago

      This article makes me feel hopeful! I think that it is super scary that doctor's do not believe you when you tell them about the "itch". I recently had a cold for about 2 weeks and then I developed hives. I can only attribute these hives as something viral due to my weakened immune system. I was taking an antihistamine (Benadryl) for 9 days total, every 4 to 5 hours. Today is day 6 of not taking the antihistamine and I have been dealing with this horrendous itching all of over craziness! It is maddening! I'm so grateful to have found and read your article. It does give me some options to help "deal" with the withdrawal itch and it gives me hope that it will eventually subside and I can feel normal again. I will never consistently take an antihistamine again! Thank you for sharing!

    • profile image

      Shauna 4 years ago

      Hi! I have cold urticaria and after 4 years of mild symptoms it's gotten a tad worse. I don't get crazy hives but more swelling as a histamine reaction. My allergist wants me on Zyrtec and being the anti medicine person I am I have been researching and found your article. I am so afraid to take it now but the amount of variables I have to deal with (cold weather, food, air conditioners, cold food aisles at supermarket, rain, wind) because of my condition is making me feel pretty scared and desperate:/

    • profile image

      Heidi Fletcher 4 years ago

      This is a well done article, Michael. Thanks for the information! My son has had eczema since infancy. Hydroxizine was prescribed (along with zyrtec, claritin, benedryl) - nothing ever helped. But the hydroxizine was for nighttime to help him finally get a little bit of sleep. 10.5 months ago, we figured out, and got it confirmed, that his worsening eczema was actually due to the topical steroids we'd been applying for years at the doctors' behest. Despite my concerns that it never resolved the eczema, that his skin was thinning, and growth was slowing (all documented side effects the prescription inserts tell you to discuss with your doctor). Anyway, the hydroxizine (aka atarax) dosage was doubled three times in 6 months (my son was 3yo at the time). One night as I tried to give it to him, he started crying saying "NO, NO, NO medi-ine! It make me it[itch] worse!" I stopped because a)it worked only 50% of the time if that and b)the last time he tried telling me that was about his topical steroids we were told we "had" to put on him several times a day. Turns out he was right on the topical steroids, and right on the antihistamines. Just a few months ago, finally, an adult posted in our topical steroid withdrawal forums that their antihistamine was making their itch worse. I was relieved I listened to my kid this time around. Thanks for the post and the warning. You are correct - we must, as a society, start to look for the cause of our issues and quit treating symptoms only - especially if the treatments aren't working. The drugs are supposed to be for short term use. Anyone using topical steroids for eczema over a long period of time, please read the warning signs of "addiction" and the resulting "withdrawal" at

    • profile image

      Leslie Chua 4 years ago

      Hi Micheal,

      That is a great article. I myself am an eczema and topical steroid withdrawal sufferer and have used zyrtec to help with my itches. Intuitively I felt that they made me worse, and I tried to cut down on their usage.

      I currently run a blog and a website portal (due to launch) and would like to feature this in the website. How could I get into contact with you?



    • Naomi Cudmore profile image

      Naomi Cudmore 4 years ago from Washford

      God me too - I have not escaped scott free though (I have had a headache constantly for five days now - feeling very grumpy!

      Thank you for your message :)

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 4 years ago

      Hey again, Naomi! Thanks for your comment!

      Just to let you know, you might not get "the itch." For me, the really bad itching started around day 4 or 5. But ever since I wrote the article, I've read a lot of people's comments on different forums. Countless people write about how the itch is so unbearable, but others say that they've taken Zyrtec for years, then quit and didn't experience any withdrawal effects. It seems that it just depends on the person.

      Just hope that you're one of those lucky few!

    • Naomi Cudmore profile image

      Naomi Cudmore 4 years ago from Washford

      I am now on day seven or eight off zytec after 20 years or so of being on it. I have had challenging days but not 'the itch'. I do not know if the supplements I have taken have anything to do with this but in case it helps anyone I have taken B12, theonine, vitamin c and ginseng as well as a multi-fit (that's a lot of pills!), as well as half a clarityn. Today I am going to try to go down to half a clarityn every other day.

    • profile image

      JP 4 years ago

      Hello. I'm from Portugal and for the last 10 years I am addicted to Cetirizine (Zyrtec's generic) due to the itchy withdrawal affects, as for the rest of you in this board.

      The itching I've been subjected to is unbearable, UNBEARABLE! For several times I tried to stop taking Cetirizine but I just couldn't handle the horrible skin itching that seemed to get into my bones and burn my skin and eventually had to take the pill again. For those who could overcome the addiction - you are my heroes!!

      I will write to Zyrtec and FDA to show my revolt as for the lack of listing the itching as a secondary effect and also to ask them for a solution to our problem. I beg all of you to do the same...

    • Naomi Cudmore profile image

      Naomi Cudmore 4 years ago from Washford

      Thank you Michael. I will certainly look into that and try to keep going!

    • profile image

      Eimantas 4 years ago

      Micheal, thank you for such great and informative article. Its short and straight to the point.

      I was using Zyrtec for seasonal allergies from time to time, and one day hives started to attack. And since then, i was taking Zyrtec for 7 years. Spent thousands on doctors, tests, homeopathy, and so on... Nothing helped, except magic white pill. I was looking for a new treatments from time time. And week a go i found bunch of articles, forums, people talking about zyrtec withdrawal, and i thought that i might be one them.. I tried to quit, for about 4 times, and every time i could be without it more than 3-4 days. Cause of terrible itching and hives.

      I was taking 10 mg per day, now for a week i lowered to a 5 mg , itching is quite ok, much more sweating, and feeling tired.. But everything seems ok, i will try to 2.5 mg in a week, and after that cold turkey...

      Best of luck,

      Thanks for information

    • Naomi Cudmore profile image

      Naomi Cudmore 4 years ago from Washford

      Hi, hope someone can help me with a bit of advice. I have been on zyrtec 19 years, since the age of 20 (I am now 39). I started taking it for urticaria which began shortly before my finals at University (so stress related). It worked and whenever I have missed a day because I had run out I would start sneezing. So I stayed on it all this time, never really thinking about it. Occasionally I have said to my doctor "Are you sure it is ok for me to take this forever?" They have seemed fairly uninterested. Meanwhile I have had very bad excema since the same time too (I also had it occasionally as a child). It used to be just on my feet (the soles) and so bad I had to have light treatment three times a week for a time (it made me cry it hurt so much) but now it is also on both calves (symmetrical patches, hideous to look at, and I have not got the best legs anyway!) and the palm of my left hand and in the creases of my elbows. I had an epiphany the other day - I could 'feel' (could be wrong of course) that the zyrtec was causing the excema. Might this be right? I had repeatedly put the excema down to stress (I am a 'stress head' - I worry about everything and work very long hours running a publishing business) and admittedly it did get worse when stressed (for example, I had a brain tumour about a year ago and having that removed was stressful; during the time before the op the excema was bad) but now I have no brain tumour (conventional medicine saved my life on that one, literally) and my excema is still bad. Anyway, today I am on day 6 without zyrtec. Three days ago I took a claritin after reading on a forum that it can be helpful to help when coming off the zyrtec and that it is a different drug. The sneezing has finally stopped at last and after three days of streaming from eyes and nose it's a relief that that has subsided. However, I now have a monstrous headache with horrible nausea. Is this because of the sinuses? Three days ago I started taking theonine, extra Vit C and Vit B12 too as I read about what supplements to take before coming off the zyrtec. My plan is to see a homeopathist to tackle the excema once I am over the zyrtec withdrawal (which I think will skew the picture so best to wait). I have not yet got 'the itch'. I am a bit itchy - but I am always very itchy (again could that have been the zyrtec. Any advice welcome. Should I keep going? Will the hives comes back that it was originally used to treat or might I escape. Is it ok that I feel so sick? After the 'challenging' year I had last year with the brain surgery etc I long to have my first ever summer with excema making me look horrible. I also long to be a not itchy person! PS: the brain tumour was TOTALLY UNRELATED to any of this so don't panic. It was congenital and ridiculously rare; I just got lucky that it was diagnosed. I simply didn't know it was there until it grew so big I fell over.

    • profile image

      Kirsten 4 years ago

      I'm on my fourth attempt to stop taking Claritin. This time I slowly reduced dose down to 2 mg and finally stopped antihistamines altogether. I'm at day 21 with no Claritin and still itching. If I can't resist the itch, I find rubbing gently rather than scratching with nails is best. I am hopeful to be at end to the itch soon! I never had this type of issue before. And I had several past allergy seasons where I didn't have these withdrawal symptoms... Never taking antihistamine again. I would rather suffer seasonal allergies than go through this again. I prefer not to take Claritin forever since it has caused me to gain 10 lbs within the past year.

    • profile image

      Geanna 4 years ago

      Please don't use Prednisone to stop the itching as that's just trading one problem for another. Prednisone is a very potent oral steroid that can cause more problems than you want.

    • profile image

      Jayce 4 years ago

      Thanks so much for the information. I've been on Zyrtrc D for a few months due to a seasonal allergy. I started trying to go off the meds a few months ago since my husband and I were hoping to try to concieve and this is not an approved pregnancy med. My doctors did not believe my " itchy" symptoms were connected to stopping the meds, and instead gave me flonase to take in addituon to the zyrtec. I am trying to taper off the Zyrtec because I am unable to sleep at night due to the itching. It is unbearable. I am also experiencing other "jittery-like " withdrawal symptoms. This is maddening, cannot believe this is over the counter medication.

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 4 years ago

      Hey there, Katie! Thanks for your question!

      I actually still have my candida issue. I had a blood test, which confirmed high amounts of candida in my blood. All of my symptoms went away for about two months last summer, which is around when I wrote the article. Then my symptoms came back slowly until they got serious.

      Right now, I'm on an all-vegetable diet, plus I'm taking probiotics, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar to kill the excess yeast. Honestly, I have no idea how I got rid of it the first time, but I'm seeing amazing results with this routine.

      If you've got a yeast problem, this will definitely help!

    • profile image

      Katie 4 years ago

      I'm wondering what you did to get rid of your candida issue?

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 4 years ago

      You're very welcome, Mridula! I'm so glad I could help! My sympathies are with you, and I hope everything turns out alright! And don't worry, just remember that it's temporary :)

    • profile image

      Mridula 4 years ago

      Thanks a lot for this post. I've been on citrzine and then levocitrazine since 2007. Last year i broke into hives when i stopped taking this for a week but took to citrazine again coz i cudn't bear the itch. This time i've stopped it, it's been almost a month now, i have bouts of hives which i try to cool off with aloe vera gels but yes i've definitely stopped taking any antihistamines. i don't know how long it's gonna take for my body to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms but ur post definitely gave me hope and a much required boost. Thank u once again.

    • Michael M Griffin profile image

      Michael M Griffin 4 years ago

      SK, you are very welcome! I am happy you found my words helpful and hopeful! Yes, Claritin for 7 years is a very long time for an antihistamine treatment, and it will take a bit of time for your body to get back into balance. Don't worry about giving in a few times, because we've all done that. Try a few of the natural treatments above; I found that the supplements and teas were calming to a certain degree.

      And always remember, it's temporary! I know you'll get through it because you've been having withdrawal for a few months. I know it's hard, but you've got what it takes! Eventually, the itching will subside.

    • profile image

      SK 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for this post! I saw so many other discussions but none of them gave me a sense of hope like this one. I am having the same withdrawal itch but from Claritin instead of Zyrtec. It's been a couple of months now and it is not going away yet. I took Claritin for 7 years so it's been quite a long recovery since I quit cold turkey. I gave in a few times and took it after a few days. Now I am not taking it at all but the itch seems to be getting worse every day. I am so thankful you shared your experience and results. It gives me hope that I will get through it! Thanks again!!


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