Nasal Allergy Medicines

The table below lists the most common over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for nasal allergies. Some are pills. Some are liquids. And some are nasal sprays. It's important to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking these medicines, even though they're available without a prescription. Bring a list of your current medicines with you. Then the pharmacist can review it and check for possible medicine interactions. Having your medicine information will allow the pharmacist to advise a safe OTC nasal allergy medicine. Always follow the instructions on the package labels.

Type of medicine

Examples of medicines

Description of medicine


  • diphenhydramine

  • loratadine

  • cetirizine

  • fexofenadine

  • levocetirizine

  • olopatadine (antihistamine eye drops)

  • Stops the release of histamine, a substance in the body that causes many allergy symptoms

  • Helps prevent sneezing, runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes

  • Some of these may cause drowsiness

Corticosteroid nasal sprays

  • fluticasone

  • triamcinolone

  • budesonide

  • Reduces inflammation and swelling

  • Relieves itching and sneezing

  • Helps decrease mucus and relieve postnasal drip when taken daily


  • oxymetazoline

  • pseudoephedrine

  • Reduces swelling of nasal passages and relieves sinus pressure

  • Overuse of these nasal sprays can worsen symptoms

  • Talk with your health care provider before using these if you have high blood pressure

Mast cell stabilizers

  • ketotifen

  • cromolyn

  • Helps prevent cells from releasing histamine

  • Prevents and relieves sneezing, itchiness, and runny nose

Saline sprays, rinses, and gels


  • Provides lubrication or moisture to nasal passages. These can be used as often as needed.

  • Helps soothe irritated nasal passages. Loosens thick mucus.

NOTE: Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist about the possible side effects and medicine or food interactions of any medicine you take.

How to use nasal spray

Nasal sprays must be used the right way to be effective. Be sure to do the following:

  • Blow your nose to clear your nostrils.

  • Gently shake the bottle. Then remove the cap.

  • With your right hand, carefully insert the tip of the bottle into your left nostril. Point the tip toward your ear and not the center of the nose.

  • While gently breathing in through your nose, press down once on the pump to release the spray.

  • Breathe out through your mouth.

  • With your left hand, repeat the steps for your right nostril.

You don't need to tilt your head back or sniff strongly when taking a nasal spray. If a little drips out after use or you sneeze, that's OK.

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Blaivas, Allen J., DO
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.