The 8 Best OTC Allergy Medicines to Buy in 2018

Keep sniffles and itchy eyes at bay with these options

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Allergies can be beyond annoying. From the runny nose and itchy eyes to the coughing and overall feeling of achiness and fatigue, allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Fortunately, there’s an array of over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications you can buy at the drugstore to treat your allergy symptoms and help you feel better fast.

Of course, choosing from that vast array lining the shelves of your drugstore can also be confusing, so we’ve narrowed it down a bit. Whether you need to treat allergy symptoms related to pollen, ragweed, pet allergies or anything else, here are the best OTC allergy medications to help you find relief now.

 

1

Best Overall: Allegra Adult 24-Hour Allergy Relief

When it comes to allergy medications, Allegra ultimately stands out for one reason: It works, and it works fast. For indoor and outdoor allergies alike, this antihistamine treats the most common allergy symptoms, from a runny nose and watery eyes to sneezing and an itchy throat. It’s designed to act fast (within an hour of you taking it), and provide relief for approximately 24 hours. The non-drowsy formula means you won’t have to worry about nodding off during work, school or other activities either.

This formula is for adults and children ages 12 and older, but Allegra also makes products for children as well. Customers give Allegra high marks all around, with more than 80 percent of the 720-plus reviewers on Amazon giving it five stars.

 

2

Best for Kids: Children’s Zyrtec 24-Hour Allergy Relief Syrup With Cetirizine

Unfortunately, kids aren’t spared from allergies, so when they hit you want to help them feel better as quickly and as safely as possible. Children’s Zyrtec is recommended for kids ages 2 and up to provide relief from all those annoying symptoms, including itchy, watery eyes, a running nose, and a raspy throat. This antihistamine is made without any dyes or sugar, so parents feel good giving it to their kids. Just one dose is needed per day so you don't have to wrestle with finicky children too much either. Parents say kids like the taste, and it works well to ease allergy symptoms.

Zyrtec also has an Allergycast App you can download that provides alerts when pollen counts are high and helps you track your kids’ symptoms so you can see how various weather and other factors affect them.

3

Best Non-Drowsy: Claritin 24-Hour Allergy Reditabs

When crawling into bed and sleeping your allergy-filled days away isn’t an option, you want a medicine that’s not going to make you drowsy. These non-drowsy Claritin RediTabs promise to keep you awake and alert while keeping your symptoms at bay. These tablets melt in your mouth with no water needed, which means they’re easy to take on the go, and they work quickly, dissolving three times faster than other tablets on the market.

They promise relief from symptoms associated with more than 200 common allergens too, so no matter if it’s dust, mold, pets or pollen that bothers you, these tablets are likely to help. They’re recommended for adults and children 6 years and older.

 

4

Best for Pets and Dander: Xyzal¨ Allergy Relief Tablets - Levocetirizine

While you may love animals with all of your heart, sometimes your nose, eyes, and throat feel differently about our furry friends. If you are allergic to pets and dander, Xyzal may give much-needed relief from your allergy symptoms.

Recommended for adults and kids ages 6 and up, it promises 24-hour relief from common allergy symptoms including itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and more. Customers say it works great for pet allergies, calling it a “lifesaver” and say it even helps with hives. Many say after trying multiple OTC allergy medications, this is the only one they’ve found to be effective.

 

5

Best for Pollen: Zyrtec Prescription-Strength Allergy Medicine Tablets

Nature can be so beautiful, with its gorgeous flowers, lush landscapes and tremendous trees, but with all that natural majesty, comes pollen, which is a major pain if you’re allergic to it. Customers say this prescription-strength Zyrtec helps alleviate that pain by providing effective relief from common allergy symptoms.

This medicine claims bragging rights as the number one allergist-recommended brand of OTC oral antihistamines for both indoor and outdoor allergies. It promises to start working within one hour after you take it and provides relief for up to 24 hours. It’s recommended for adults and children ages 6 and up.

 

6

Best for Ragweed: Benadryl Ultratabs Antihistamine Allergy Relief

When it comes to pollen, there are different types, and ragweed is among the most common, as ragweed plants produce a heck of a lot of pollen in North America. Benadryl has long been a leader in treating symptoms associated with ragweed allergies as well as those associated with other common allergies and cold symptoms too.

One potential downside to Benadryl is that it makes some people drowsy, though if you’re looking to get some Z’s, then that becomes an upside. Loyal customers say it’s the only OTC medicine that provides relief from their allergy symptoms.

 

7

Best for Eyes: Alcon Naphcon-A Allergy Relief Eye Drops, 0.5-Ounce Bottles

Itchy eyes are one of the most irksome effects of allergies. These eye drops from Naphcon promise to ease the itch as well as the redness that’s often caused by ragweed, pollen, grass, animals, and more.

Formerly only available as a prescription, customers say these drops work well, and the price is hard to beat. Beyond allergies, they say they’re also effective in treating dry eyes and eyes that are fatigued from too much screen time.

 

8

Best Spray: Rhinocort Allergy Nasal Spray, 24-Hour Relief

A good alternative to pills, tablets, and liquids, nasal sprays also offer relief from allergy symptoms. Rhinocort gets top marks from allergy sufferers. One dose of the spray offers 24-hour relief from common allergy symptoms, including itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion.

Customers say it works quickly and provides significant relief from outdoor and indoor allergies. At the same time, notes one reviewer, it doesn't feel funny or irritating inside your nose post-spray.