Introduction

If your child has an allergy, you want to do all you can to help them feel better. As you probably know, there are many over-the-counter allergy drugs available. The question is, which ones are safe for children? For most children, Claritin is a safe option. Here’s how to use it to help relieve your child’s allergy symptoms.

Safe use of Claritin for kids

Claritin comes in two versions: Claritin and Claritin-D. They each come in several forms. While all forms of Claritin and Claritin-D are safe for use in most children of certain ages, your child may prefer the two forms of Claritin that are labeled for children. They come as grape or bubblegum flavored chewable tablets and a grape flavored syrup.

Claritin and Claritin-D dosage and age ranges

Both Claritin and Claritin-D can be used over-the-counter or as a prescription from your child’s doctor. Follow either the doctor’s instructions or the dosage instructions listed on the package, which are shown below. The dosage information is based on age.

NameRoute and formStrength(s)Children’s age range*Dosage
Children’s Claritin Chewables (24 Hour)Chewable oral tablet5 mgSafe for ages 2 years and olderFor children 6 years and older: Give 2 tablets daily. Do not give more than 2 tablets in 24 hours.
For children 2 to 5 years: Give 1 tablet daily. Do not give more than 1 tablet in 24 hours.
Children’s Claritin Syrup (24 Hour)Oral syrup5 mg/5 mlSafe for ages 2 years and olderFor children 6 years and older: Give 2 tsp. daily. Do not give more than 2 tsp. in 24 hours.
For children 2 to 5 years: Give 1 tsp. daily. Do not give more than 1 tsp. in 24 hours.
Claritin RediTabs (12 Hour)Orally disintegrating tablet5 mgSafe for ages 6 years and olderGive 1 tablet every 12 hours. Do not give more than 2 tablets in 24 hours.
Claritin RediTabs (24 Hour)Orally disintegrating tablet10 mgSafe for ages 6 years and olderGive 1 tablet daily. Do not give more than 1 tablet in 24 hours.
Claritin (24 Hour)Oral tablet10 mgSafe for ages 6 years and olderGive 1 tablet daily. Do not give more than 1 tablet in 24 hours.
Claritin Liqui-Gels (24 Hour) Oral capsule10 mgSafe for ages 6 years and olderGive 1 capsule daily. Do not give more than 1 capsule in 24 hours.
Claritin-D (12 Hour)Extended-release oral tablet5 mg/120 mgSafe for ages 12 years and olderGive 1 tablet every 12 hours. Do not give more than 2 tablets in 24 hours.
Claritin-D (24 Hour)Extended-release oral tablet10 mg/240 mgSafe for ages 12 years and olderGive 1 tablet daily with a full glass of water. Do not give more than 1 tablet in 24 hours.
*To use a drug for a child younger than the given age range, ask your child’s doctor for guidance.

Length of use

These drugs can be used for a short period of time. The package instructions or the doctor’s prescription will tell you how long your child can take the drug. Please talk with your child’s doctor if your child needs to use these drugs for longer than either of these instructions recommends.

How Claritin and Claritin-D work

Claritin and Claritin-D are brand-name medications that contain a drug called loratadine. Loratadine is also available in a generic version.

Loratadine is an antihistamine. An antihistamine blocks a substance that your body releases when it’s exposed to allergens, or things your body is sensitive to. This released substance is called histamine. By blocking histamine, Claritin and Claritin-D block the allergic reaction. This helps relieve allergy symptoms such as:

  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • itchy or watery eyes
  • itchy nose or throat

While Claritin contains just one drug, loratadine, Claritin-D contains two drugs. In addition to loratadine, Claritin-D also contains a decongestant called pseudoephedrine. Because it contains a decongestant, Claritin-D also:

  • reduces congestion and pressure in your child’s sinuses
  • increases drainage of secretions from your child’s sinuses

Claritin-D comes as an extended-release tablet your child takes by mouth. The tablet releases the drug slowly into your child’s body over 12 or 24 hours, depending on the form.

Side effects and warnings

Like most drugs, Claritin and Claritin-D have some side effects as well as some warnings.

Side effects of Claritin and Claritin-D

The more common side effects of Claritin and Claritin-D include:

  • drowsiness
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • trouble sleeping (Claritin-D only)

Claritin and Claritin-D can also cause serious side effects. Call your child’s doctor or 911 right away if your child has any serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • rash
  • hives
  • swelling of your child’s lips, throat, and ankles

Overdose warning

Taking too much Claritin or Claritin-D can cause very serious side effects, including death. If you think your child has taken too much of their drug, call your child’s doctor or local poison control center right away. Also call your child’s doctor if you think your child has not taken too much of the drug but has symptoms of an overdose anyway. If your child’s symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Symptoms of overdose can include:

  • extreme drowsiness
  • restlessness
  • irritability

Drug interactions

There are many drugs that can interact with Claritin or Claritin-D. Before your child starts taking allergy medication, talk to your child’s doctor or your pharmacist. Tell them about any medications, vitamins, or herbs your child is taking. This list includes over-the-counter medications. The doctor or pharmacist can advise you about whether your child can take Claritin or Claritin-D safely.

One specific interaction warning for Claritin-D is for drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Do not give your child Claritin-D if they take an MAOI currently or stopped taking an MAOI within the previous two weeks.

Conditions of concern

If your child has certain health conditions, Claritin or Claritin-D may not be the best option for them. Talk with your child’s doctor before using Claritin or Claritin-D if your child has any conditions that may cause health problems when used with one of these drugs. Examples of conditions that could develop problems with use of Claritin or Claritin-D include:

  • liver disease
  • kidney disease

If you have questions about the effects of these drugs with these conditions, ask your child’s doctor or your pharmacist.

Talk with your doctor

While your child’s allergies may improve over time, they may also continue throughout childhood. Whenever your child’s allergies cause symptoms, treatments such as Claritin and Claritin-D could help. If you have questions about these or other allergy medications, talk with your child’s doctor. They’ll work with you to find a treatment that will help relieve your child’s symptoms so they can live more comfortably with their allergy.