Eczema Antihistamines

Many patients rely on antihistamine medications to control their symptoms of eczema and these can be effective in reducing the itchiness of their skin and other allergy symptoms. Antihistamines may be bought over the counter without a prescription or obtained through the doctor.

It is important to remember that some antihistamines can cause drowsiness so should not be used when driving or when the patient needs to be fully alert. These antihistamines may, however, be useful for those who scratch their skin in their sleep. Non-drowsy antihistamines are also available over the counter, such as fexofenadine (Allegra), loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), and cetirizine (Zyrtec). Many of these have an expensive brand-name product which is no different from the generic drug.


Antihistamines can have side-effects other than drowsiness, with some people experiencing dizziness, headaches, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal (stomach) upset, changes in vision, mood swings and irritability, and a dry mouth and nose. Sometimes these side-effects are shortlived and wear off as a person becomes used to the medication. Where the symptoms persist or are severe the patient should seek medical assistance and an alternative antihistamine or eczema treatment may be prescribed. Severe side-effects of antihistamines can include respiratory (breathing) problems, irregular heartbeat or a pounding heart, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and problems with urination. Should these occur the patient should seek immediate medical attention and stop taking the antihistamine as a precaution.

Antihistamine medications for eczema may not be suitable for all sufferers and it is important to let the prescribing physician of pharmacist know of any history of glaucoma, stomach ulcers, heart disease, high blood pressure, seizures, thyroid overactivity, lung problems, and difficulty urinating (due to an enlarged prostate, for example). Patients may experience disruptions in orthostatic blood pressure regulation resulting in dizziness when standing up too quickly. Rising slowly from a seated position or after lying down is advised.

Elderly patients with eczema who are taking antihistamines may be more sensitive to the side-effects of such medication and may be advised against their use due to other medical conditions and medication. Children under twelve years of age are usually not recommended to take long-acting forms of antihistamines and those under six should not be given these drugs without doctor’s approval. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be cautious with the use of antihistamines for eczema as the medication can be excreted through breast milk and may interfere with foetal development.

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