Safety, Uses, Dosage And Side Effects

Zyrtec, commonly known by the generic name cetirizine, is a non-drowsy antihistamine prescribed to reduce the effects of the chemical histamine in the body. Histamine causes symptoms such as swelling, itching, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes that are commonly seen in allergies and colds. It is also used for treating chronic urticaria (hives) in children.

Zyrtec is available for oral intake as tablets, dissolving tablets, chewable tablets, and syrups. It is also available as grape- or bubble-gum-flavored chewable tablets or syrup for convenience. Effects of Zyrtec in children may begin within an hour after intake and last for about a day.

Read this post to know more about the dose, safety, side effects, warnings, and other common concerns about Zyrtec for children.

At What Age Can Zyrtec Be Given To A Child?

Zyrtec can be given to children aged above two years. The FDA disapproved of its use for infants and children younger than two years. Seek a pediatrician or doctor’s prescription before giving Zyrtec to two- to six-year-old children (1).

Zyrtec Dosage For Children

You may seek a primary care provider or pediatrician’s advice for the appropriate doses of medication based on your child’s age, weight, and health status. The following table may help you understand the dosage of Zyrtec (cetirizine) for allergy in children (1).

Child’s age (years) 2-6 6-11 12+
Liquid 5mg/ 5mL 2.5mL 5mL 10mL
Liquid 5mg/ 1tsp (teaspoon) ½tsp 1tsp 2tsp
Chewable 5mg tablets 1 tablet 2 tablets
Tablet 10mg 1 tablet

The dose mentioned above is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for doctors’ prescriptions or advice.

Consult a pediatrician before giving medications to a child for allergic symptoms such as runny nose and hives. The doctor may prescribe Zyrtec based on your child’s age and the severity of symptoms.

Safe Use Of Zyrtec For Children

The safety and efficacy of Zyrtec are not guaranteed for children under two years of age. Take the following safety measures when giving Zyrtec to children (2):

  • Do not give cetirizine to a child with previously known hypersensitivity or allergic reactions.
  • Children with renal (kidney) impairment and liver impairment may require dose adjustment according to their condition. Zyrtec is not recommended for children with poor renal function.
  • Give the medications as per the doctor’s prescription to avoid overdosing.
  • Use syringes or droppers to measure the dose of liquid (syrup or solutions) medications.
  • You may use measuring spoons to measure the medication. Regular spoons may not be reliable.
  • Store the medication at room temperature. Do not store in hot and moisturized places.
  • Do not freeze the liquid medications.
  • Seek the pediatrician’s advice to know how often, how, and how much to give.
  • Check expiration dates while purchasing medications.
  • Read the manufacturer’s information to know about drug interactions, side effects, and warnings.
  • Do not give medications to siblings following one’s prescription.
  • Give medications until the prescribed duration. Seek medical advice if the symptoms do not improve.
  • Keep Zyrtec out of the child’s reach.

Over-the-counter treatment is not recommended for a long duration. It is recommended to seek pediatric consultation to identify the cause of allergies and the best treatments.

Zyrtec Side Effects And Warnings In Children

Some children may develop side effects such as vomiting and stomach pain after taking Zyrtec (2). Seek emergency medical help if your child shows any of the following signs of an allergic reaction after taking Zyrtec (3).

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of tongue, lips, throat, or face

Stop giving Zyrtec or cetirizine to children and contact the doctor if your child develops any of the following side effects (3).

  • Uneven, pounding, or fast heartbeat
  • Hyperactivity
  • Severe restlessness
  • Weakness
  • Sleep issues (insomnia)
  • Uncontrolled shaking (tremors)
  • Oliguria or anuria (reduced or no urination)
  • Confusion
  • Vision problems

Other common side effects of cetirizine may include (3)

  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness or lightheadedness
  • Sweating and feeling hot
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Burning pain
  • Reduced sense of taste
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth

Some children may experience other signs and symptoms after taking Zyrtec or cetirizine. Seek medical advice if your child has any unusual signs and symptoms after taking the medication. You can also report the side effects to the FDA (in the US) or an equivalent organization in your country.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if my child misses a dose?

You may give the medication as soon as possible if the time for the next dose is hours away. However, skip the missed dose if it is almost time to give the next dose. Follow the prescription timings and never give two doses at the same time (4).

2. Can my child take Zyrtec and cough syrup?

You may contact the pediatrician before giving a combination of cough syrup and Zyrtec to the child. Some cough syrups may contain cetirizine or other antihistamines. So, seeking a prescription can avoid overdose and interactions. Cough syrups containing dextromethorphan (DM) may increase the chance of developing side effects if taken with cetirizine.

Seek immediate medical care if your child has overdosed. Do not let your child do any activities requiring alertness after taking Zyrtec, and always seek pediatric prescriptions for safe and effective use of Zyrtec for your child based on their symptoms. Also, never treat your child with adult medications since the doses may vary.


MomJunction’s health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

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