Written by Mita Majumdar, M.Sc. | 
Medically Reviewed by dr. simi paknikar, MD on Nov 18, 2019

How to Select Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs for Allergy

There are a number of over-the-counter Drugs for Allergy available with the local drug-store. It is for the allergy sufferer to choose the right one from among them.

Selecting the right over-the-counter allergy (OTC) medication from the wide array of choices available at your local pharmacy/drug-store can be quite confusing. The right choice depends upon whether you have seasonal allergy, environmental allergy, food allergy, drug allergy or toxin allergy. You also need to know what drugs are available over-the-counter for allergy and which symptoms they treat.(1)

Typically, there are four types of allergy medication – antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, decongestants and topical corticosteroids.

You should opt for over-the-counter medication only when you have a mild allergy. Severe cases of allergy have to be referred to a doctor. Ask your doctor before starting a medication if you are suffering from any other ailments or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Antihistamines containing the active ingredients brompheniramine maleate (Dimetane) or chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton) may have drug interactions with certain drugs like tranquilizers and sedatives.

Here’s a list of commonly available OTC drugs for allergy.(2)

Antihistamines – Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), brompheniramine (Dimetane), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), loratadine (Tavist, Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec) (prescription drug in some countries).

Decongestants Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), Oxymetazoline HCl (Afrin nasal spray), phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine nasal spray).

Combination drugs (antihistamine + decongestant) – Pseudoephedrine-triprolidine (Actifed), chlorpheniramine maleate-pseudoephedrine sulfate (Chlor-Trimeton D), clemastine-phenylpropanolamine (Tavist D), acetaminophen-diphenhydramine HCl (Tylenol Allergy, Sinus), pheniramine maleate- naphazoline hydrochloride (0.025%) (Ocu-Hist or Visine-A eye drops).

Topical Corticosteroids – Cortaid.

Get only those allergy drugs that have worked for you earlier. Remember to check the active ingredient/s in the OTC allergy medicine you use.

Types of Allergy Medication

Generally, over the counter drugs should not be used over long time. Consult a doctor if your allergy symptoms are new.


  1. Choosing an Over-The-Counter Allergy Medication - (https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/choosing-an-over-the-counter-allergy-medication)
  2. The Best Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications - (https://www.verywellhealth.com/choosing-over-the-counter-allergy-treatment-3859664)
  3. Popular Over-the-Counter Oral Antihistamine Brands - (https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/antihistamine-brands#second-and-thirdgeneration-brands)
  4. Decongestants: OTC Relief for Congestion - (https://familydoctor.org/decongestants-otc-relief-for-congestion/)
  5. What Is Pseudoephedrine? - (https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-pseudoephedrine-1192197)
  6. What is Hydrocortisone? - (https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/hydrocortisone)

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