Last updated Nov, 25, 2021: see below
Having crossed the big 40, I’m constantly discovering new quirks of being old, most recently, Allergies 🙂 It started when I went on a trip to a new city in Colombia. When I got back I noticed an itch on my forearm and so I went to a nearby pharmacy. The pharmacist immediately diagnosed my itch as allergies and gave me the equivalent of Zyrtec, which has an active ingredient of cetirizine.
I began taking that, and it was great, no more itch. Only problem was that even though I was no longer in that town, but back home, I still would develop an itch if I was late taking a dose of the cetirizine, which I began taking on a daily basis. I began to think maybe it was due to being springtime or Colombia (having moved there a few years ago). So, I continued with the cetirizine. On my next trip back to the USA, I thought I wouldn’t need it there since never in my life had I suffered from allergies and I was going back to an area I grew up in, Maryland.
Well again, I was late for a dose and my forearms or other parts of me would itch. This was very strange, so I decided to check google. When searching for, itching after stopping cetirizine and sure enough, many of the results pointed to lingering effects, mainly itching, upon discontinuing with the medication. Many personal blogs mentioned it, even a few articles on the National Institute of Health, NIH, website. To be honest, I don’t see how Zyrtec can even market the drug without a warning about withdrawal symptoms.
To ween myself off of cetirizine, I’ve switched to Loratadine, which doesn’t seem to have the same withdrawal effects, yet it’s been a few weeks, and each day if I’m late, I begin to itch. So, I spoke to my doctor and it sounds like it’s yet another condition of getting older, and more sensitive to allergies. So if this happens to you, and like me you can’t find a cause in your environment, it might also be a factor of age 🙂
Update, Nov 25, 2021
Ok, it’s been a few months since I initially wrote this article and I’ve got a bit more information. As mentioned, I had been taking Loratadine. To keep the dosage as small as possible, I would cut a 10mg pill into quarters. After loosing some due to inexact cuts, i was left with around pieces of around 1.5-2mg. FYI, children dosage is 5mg, while for adults its 10mg. In my case, I found that the 2mg dosages worked for me. Keep in mind, it’s not allergy season, and i’m taking it on nearly a daily basis.
When do I take it, I typically wait for some sensation of itchy skin. Typically this occurs in the evening, around 5-7pm. I typically work in the office till around 4:30pm, then I walk home and sometimes practice basketball for 30minutes. I think being outside is what aggravates the allergies, hence the itchy sensation afterwards. When back home, this is typically when I will take a Loratadine tablet, and in around 30-60 minutes, the slight itching sensation goes away.
I’m sure I could take a 5mg or even 10mg tablet at a regular basics and I would also be fine, however since I’ll taking it on a daily basis, seemingly all year, I want to start with as little as necessary. For now, I can put up with the minor itching sensation that happens, with near daily frequency, around 6pm.
I have noticed that taking the medication also helps with a good nights sleep. When i miss taking a dose, I often wake up in the middle of the night feeling warm and thirsty. So, I’ll starting taking it on a daily basis, either when the itchy sensation starts, or just before bed.
My next investigation is to consider switching pills. There are others which have a similar effect and as I’ll be taking them on a daily basis all year, routine switching could delay building tolerance for one. Speaking of investigation, here’s a nice chart i found to help figure out which is the right medication for you. The top section has to do with symptoms related to extra mucus production, nasal, while the bottom section is related to the skin, and itching. Personally, I notice more the later.