Allergy Treatments and Medicine for Kids

Allergies are common in children, and fortunately, there are many good treatments that can help you control your child's allergy symptoms.

Although parents usually try over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, their frequent use should usually be avoided, because they are sedating and can make your child sleepy. Newer OTC allergy medicines are the exception, though, as most are non-sedating, including Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec.

A young boy taking his medicine
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Prescription allergy medications for older kids are the same as those that are used for adults, including Clarinex and Xyzal, both of which come in over-the-counter formulations as well. In addition, you can use steroid nasal sprays in children under two years old with allergies, including Flonase, Rhinocort Aqua, Nasonex, Nasacort AQ, Omnaris, and Flonase Sensimist.

That's a lot of different allergy medications and different combinations that can be used, so don't let your kids suffer from allergy symptoms. See your pediatrician for help finding the right allergy medications.

Young Kids With Allergies

Choices are a little more limited for younger infants and children. These choices do include Clarinex and Xyzal, both are which available as a syrup and are approved for children over age 6 months.

Claritin and Zyrtec are also available as a syrup and chewable tablet, but they are officially only approved for kids over age 2 years. And keep in mind that both are now available over the counter, both as brand name Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and as cheaper generic and store-brand versions.

Singulair is another good alternative for younger children. Although this medicine has already been used to prevent asthma in kids, it recently was also approved as a treatment for seasonal and year-round allergies. It can be given to children over age 6 months from a packet of oral granules, or as a chewable tablet for kids over age 4.

Allegra is the latest allergy medicine to be available in a liquid form. It is now available in an oral suspension that can be given to children between the ages of 2 to 11 years with seasonal allergies and over 6 months with chronic idiopathic urticaria (hives). It is also the latest allergy medicine to be available over-the-counter.

Steroid nasal sprays are also often used for younger kids. Nasonex and Veramyst are both approved for use in kids over age 2 years, and Flonase can be used in children over age 4.

Remember that many medications are used off-label in children younger than the FDA-approved age.

Older Kids With Allergies

Until your children are able to swallow a pill, they will likely need to take the same medications that younger children do, although perhaps in a higher dose.

In addition to the oral granules and 4mg chewable tablet for younger kids, a 5mg chewable tablet of Singulair is available for children 6 to 14 years of age. Children over 14 can take the regular 10mg tablet that adults take.

Older kids can also take Allegra, which is available as a 30mg tablet for children 6 to 11 years of age, and either 60 or 180mg for children over age 12.

Children over age 12 could also take Clarinex, Allegra-D, Zyrtec, Xyzal, Zyrtec-D, Claritin, or Claritin-D.

Antihistamine nasal sprays are another option for kids and include Patanase for children who are at least 6 years old and Astelin and Astepro for older kids who are at least 12 years old. Beginning in early 2022, Astepro will be available over-the-counter for use by kids 6 and older.

The steroid nasal sprays are also commonly used in older children, either alone or with another medication for control of allergy symptoms.

Alternative Treatments

Even before you start an allergy medication, steps should be taken to help control indoor allergies and avoid common things that cause allergies (allergens). This includes dust mites, mold and pet dander for year-round or perennial allergies. Seasonal allergies are more difficult to avoid.

When simple allergen avoidance and/or allergy medications don't work, your next step is usually allergy testing to help find what your children are allergic to. If allergy testing is positive, you might then proceed with allergy shots.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) has introduced a practice parameter that calls for increased use of allergy shots, especially to 'prevent allergic rhinitis from progressing to allergic asthma.'

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there allergy medicine for children younger than 2 years old?

    Yes. Examples include syrup forms of Clarinex and Xyzal, which can be used for children over 6 months old.

  • Are there chewable tablets for allergy relief?

    Yes, allergy medicines like Claritin and Zyrtec are available as a chewable tablet (and also as a syrup), but they are only recommended for kids over 2 years old. Always be sure to follow the instructions on the label.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yilmaz O, Altintas D, Rondon C, Cingi C, Oghan F. Effectiveness of montelukast in pediatric patients with allergic rhinitis. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2013;77(12):1922-4. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.10.006

  2. Jutel M, Kosowska A, Smolinska S. Allergen Immunotherapy: Past, Present, and Future. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2016;8(3):191-7. doi:10.4168/aair.2016.8.3.191

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
 Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.