Who can use antihistamines? 

Most people are able to take antihistamines.

However, antihistamines are not recommended for certain groups of people in some circumstances.

Health conditions and antihistamines

Certain conditions can be made worse by taking antihistamines, or they can cause the antihistamines to react unpredictably. These include:

Before taking antihistamines, seek advice from your GP or pharmacist if you have a health condition.

Antihistamines in pregnancy

As a general rule, avoid taking any medication during pregnancy unless there's a clear clinical need. Always check with your GP, pharmacist or midwife first.

If you're pregnant and feel you need antihistamines, nasal sprays, nose drops or eye drops will at first be recommended. If these don't work, an oral antihistamine, usually loratadine or cetirizine is likely to be recommended.

Chlorphenamine is also considered safe to use during pregnancy, but should be avoided close to labour and childbirth as it can cause problems in the baby, such as irritability or tremor (shaking).

Read more information about taking hay fever medication during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding and hay fever medicines

It may be possible for you to take some hay fever medicines while you're breastfeeding without risk to your baby. 

However, you should always get advice from your pharmacist, GP or health visitor first.

Read more information about taking hay fever medication while breastfeeding.

Young children and antihistamines

Some antihistamines, such as alimemazine and promethazine, aren't suitable for children under two years old. You should seek advice from your GP if your child is under two years old and you think they require treatment with antihistamines.

Some antihistamines are not recommended for children with certain conditions. For example, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends oral antihistamines aren't used routinely to treat children with atopic eczema.

Before giving your child any form of medication, read the patient information leaflet for advice about whether the medication is suitable for them.

Page last reviewed: 24/02/2015

Next review due: 24/02/2017