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Health & Relationships

Cheap hayfever tablets and allergy medication

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Hayfever can turn even the best summer's day into a fight against nature's irritant: pollen. But don't let it hit your finances too – find out how to get medication on the cheap.

sneezing man next to hayfever pills

If you're a hayfever sufferer, you'll understand that the effect it can have on your bank balance is almost as painful as the four months of itchy eyes, blocked nose and scratchy throat.

Hayfever is often too annoying an ailment to ignore but, sadly, the medication can be pricey. Fortunately, there are some far cheaper ways of soothing your allergies... if you know where to look.

Read on to find out how to get the cheapest hayfever medication, as well as some cheap ways to deal with your allergies when tablets just aren't enough.

Prices were correct at the time of writing, based on the full price of items online (not sale prices).

Are branded medicines better than generic medicines?

medication pills

When you're buying medication – be it for hayfever or anything else – there's always one thing to bear in mind: branded medicines are a bit of a rip-off.

Why? Well, despite the fact that your standard dose of medication will have a ton of different ingredients, there's usually only one that matters: the active ingredient. This is the one that actually does the work, and as long as it's in there, you're sorted.

In other words, whether you take Piriteze, Zirtek, Clarityn or whichever medication works for you, there's almost certainly a generic alternative out there. This will do exactly the same thing but for a fraction of the cost.

In fact, in some cases, the generic version is the exact same product as the branded medicine, just in different packaging. Look out for the PL code (basically a unique number for each drug made by each company) on the packaging. If the unbranded and branded packages have the same PL code, they are literally the same medication!

As for safety, you don't need to worry about the generic alternative being fit for consumption. Regardless of the manufacturer or retailer, all medicines in the UK are made to the same strict standards.

So, if you have a choice between two boxes of tablets – both the same quantity, both with the same active ingredient, but with drastically different price tags – there's usually no reason to go for the more expensive version.

If you have any food or drug allergies, always check the non-active ingredients too. The medication may include something that you're allergic to, and you shouldn't assume that branded and generic products have the exact same contents.

Cheap hayfever tablets

Now we've established that generic, unbranded medications are just as effective as branded products, let's take a look at the cheapest medicines that contain the all-important active ingredients.

Because promotional offers often come and go, we've avoided including any limited-time deals below. That said, we do sometimes feature offers on hayfever medication in our student deals section, so keep an eye out!

Here are the best cheap hayfever tablets:


box benadryl acrivastine tablets

Which hayfever medicines contain acrivastine?

  • Benadryl Allergy Relief.

We have some good news and some bad news here. The bad news is that Benadryl Allergy Relief is the only product out there that contains acrivastine, meaning there's no cheaper alternative.

The good news is that this is the only hayfever pill for which this is the case. Every other active ingredient is available in both branded and generic medicines, so acrivastine is the only one you'll need to pay full whack for.

Cheapest places to buy Benadryl Allergy Relief

ShopNumber of tabletsPriceCost per tablet
Amazon*24£9.34 (free delivery)38.9p
Express Chemist*48£20.09 (£16.80 plus £3.29 delivery)41.9p

As there are no generic hayfever tablets containing acrivastine, we've listed the cheapest places to buy Benadryl Allergy Relief instead.

* These retailers are online-only. 

Cetirizine hydrochloride and cetirizine dihydrochloride

benadryl zirtek piriteze cetirizine hydrochloride hay fever tablets

Which hayfever medicines contain cetirizine hydrochloride?

  • Benadryl One-a-Day Relief
  • Piriteze
  • Zirtek.

Some hayfever medicines will list their active ingredient as cetirizine hydrochloride, while others will list it as cetirizine dihydrochloride. However, as there's no known difference between the two, we've lumped them together for this price comparison exercise.

Cheapest cetirizine hydrochloride tablets

ShopNumber of tabletsPriceCost per tablet
Amazon*360£18.88 (free delivery)5.2p
Pharmacy First*360£13.94 (£9.99 plus £3.95 delivery)3.9p

* These retailers are online-only. 

Chlorphenamine maleate

Chlorphenamine Maleate piriton tablets

Which hayfever medicines contain chlorphenamine maleate?

  • Piriton (tablets and syrup).

Note that, despite the similar packaging and brand name, Piriton and Piriteze are not the same product. They're made by the same company, but the two medicines contain different active ingredients.

Cheapest chlorphenamine maleate tablets

ShopNumber of tabletsPriceCost per tablet
Express Chemist*500£33.04 (£29.75 plus £3.29 delivery)6.6p
Pharmacy First*500£34.49 (free delivery)6.9p
The Health Pharmacy*168£13.98 (£9.99 plus £3.99 delivery)8.3p

* These retailers are online-only. 


loratadine clarityn hay fever tablets

Which hayfever medicines contain loratadine?

  • Clarityn.

Loratadine is one of the most common active ingredients in hayfever pills. While Clarityn is the only major branded hayfever medicine to contain it, plenty of supermarkets opt for loratadine in their own-brand hayfever pills.

Cheapest loratadine tablets

ShopNumber of tabletsPriceCost per tablet
Pharmacy First*180£6.95 (free delivery)3.9p
Amazon*180£7.68 (free delivery)4.3p
Express Chemist*30£4.59 (£1.30 plus £3.29 delivery)15.3p

* These retailers are online-only. 

6 ways to reduce hayfever symptoms

Here are some extra ways to treat hayfever symptoms, including some natural remedies:

  1. Try prescription hayfever pills

    With any luck, regular hayfever pills will be enough to see you through the summer without too much trouble. However, in some cases, you'll need something a bit stronger.

    If you find that the hayfever medication you can buy off the shelf just isn't cutting it, ask your doctor for some prescription treatment. In some cases, they can be so effective that it almost seems too good to be true, although your doctor may have a reason not to prescribe these extra-strength pills if you have other conditions.

    What's more, as prescriptions are free in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, this option could end up saving you money too!

    And even in England, where the prescription charge is fixed at £9.90 a pop, you could save money if you get multiple months' worth of medication on one prescription.

  2. Use eye drops and nasal sprays

    Don't listen to Rachel Green – eye drops aren't that bad at all. In fact, the relief they'll give you from the burning agony will be more than worth overcoming any fears you have about putting something in your eye.

    Eye drops don't tend to hurt, but if you're really not keen on using them (or you wear contact lenses, which sadly rule out some eye drops), you can now get eye spray too.

    Eye sprays are usually suitable for use with contact lenses (always check the packaging though, of course). All you have to do is close your eyes and spray your eyelids. Nothing to be afraid of!

    As for nasal sprays, it's important to remember that blocked noses are not caused by mucus. They're actually a result of swollen blood vessels in your nose. In other words, if you're just a bit snotty, a nasal spray may not help.

    But, if you're having trouble breathing through your nose and it's not a mucus issue (sorry, we'll stop talking about it soon), nasal spray could be the solution.

    One of the hidden terrors of hayfever is waking up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe properly because your nose is so blocked. If you know you're susceptible to a blocked nose, it might be worth investing in a nasal spray for the bedside table.

  3. Avoid itchy eyes by wearing an eye mask

    woman sleeping in eye mask

    Credit: Diego Cervo – Shutterstock

    We stumbled across this trick by accident, when a t-shirt draped over the face seemed to be the only way to soothe some very, very itchy eyes. It got us thinking... could preventing itchy eyes in the morning be as simple as covering them overnight?

    Well, according to our (nearly) 100% success rate using this hack, yes – it is that simple.

    All you need is an eye mask (we went for this one as the silk means it's not only comfortable, but great for staying cool on hotter nights), and you're there. Plus, you get the added bonus of blocking out the early-rising summer sun that seems so keen to wake you up at 5.30am.

  4. Hoover your room to get rid of pollen

    Pollen is basically just dust – hence why, on spring or summer days, you can see a thin layer of it decorating all the cars on your street.

    So to get rid of the pollen in your room, just do exactly what you would to get rid of dust: hoover.

    We'd even recommend vacuuming your mattress, pillows and duvet, as you literally submerge yourself in them every night and they're bound to have picked up some pollen throughout the day.

  5. Don't hang your washing outside

    This one's pretty simple. Considering that your bedroom gets covered in pollen when it's inside, it follows that the clothes you've hung outside will be coated in it too.

    Fortunately, the solution is simple. Get yourself a foldable clothes airer so you can dry your clothes inside all year round.

    Just make sure you ventilate the room a bit. Otherwise, you might end up with damp as bad as this horrendous house.

  6. Shower before going to bed

    It's not just clothes and bedding that can carry pollen. You can, too!

    But, by showering before you go to bed, you should hopefully be able to wash away most of the pollen that's clung to you throughout the day. This means you're less likely to be rudely awoken by hayfever symptoms.

    Plus, after a hot summer's day, there's nothing better than cooling off in the shower. Double win.

    And to make sure you don't pay a fortune for the privilege, here's our guide to cutting your water bill.

Did you know that you tend to only be allergic to the pollen in your own country? With that in mind, check out this list of cheap student summer holidays and run as far from the UK as possible.

Tom Allingham

WRITTEN BY Tom Allingham

Tom joined Save the Student in 2017, initially heading up the editorial team before becoming Communications Director. He has appeared as a Student Finance expert on a range of TV and radio stations including the BBC, ITV and Sky, sharing his top tips for saving money and cutting student bills.
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