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Updated: 28 Apr 2022

How to save on hay fever medicine this season

Go for generics and own-brand tablets, or look for branded offers

If you're an allergy sufferer, you can cut costs this hay fever season by opting for generic or own-brand medicine and only buying what you need for your symptoms.

Full-price branded hay fever tablets can cost 10 times more than a basic generic version, but the difference isn't so stark when they are on offer.

It's worth shopping around and opting for cheaper versions when you can, as the savings can really add up if you need to use hay fever medicine throughout the summer.

The Met Office has said that climate change will mean the UK pollen season is longer, and could make pollen concentrations higher, so every saving counts.

We've looked at where the cheapest branded and unbranded hay fever tablets can be found, and how to ensure you are only buying the hay fever remedies you really need.


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What to choose and where to get the cheapest hay fever tablets

Most cases of hay fever can be managed effectively with a once-daily antihistamine tablet.

The two most common over the counter antihistamines are:

  • Cetirizine - brands such as Piriteze, Benadryl Allergy One a Day, and Zirtec
  • Loratadine - brands such as Clarityn

Both are well-tolerated and are non-drowsy, unlike some older types of antihistamine.

The type you choose is mostly down to personal preference. Cetirizine may be slightly faster-acting than loratadine, and loratadine may be slightly longer-lasting.

You should however still check the interactions and cautions for each drug if you have any other conditions or are taking other medication regularly. Talk to your pharmacist if you are unsure.

Best prices for hay fever meds

When we checked prices for hay fever tablets, own-brand or generic versions were always the clear cheapest choice, sometimes up to ten times cheaper than a big brand tablet.

We also noticed that with hay fever season comes multi-buy offers and price cuts, so don't pay full price if you can help it.

Cheapest cetirizine tablets

Branded (30 pack)

Generic / own brand (30 pack)

  • B&M -£1.00, available from B&M (in-store only)
  • Wilko - £1.60, available from Wilko
  • Allacan - £1.99, available from Boots

Cheapest loratadine

Branded

Generic / own-brand (all 30 pack)

  • Wilko Hay fever allergy tablets - £1.60, available at Wilko
  • Bell's Hay fever tablets -£1.99, available from Boots

Supermarket versions were also markedly cheaper than the big brands, but generics at Boots and Wilko tended to be even cheaper, so we've featured these.

If it's more convenient for you to buy as part of a supermarket shop, you shouldn't have to pay much more than this (Asda, Sainsbury's and Waitrose were under £3).

NB: we excluded stores with no stock, '*'means product is currently on sale for a reduced offer price.


Hay fever advice: see our full guide to different remedies, including natural symptom relief


Do you need a nasal spray for hay fever?

If you are still struggling with symptoms like a blocked, itchy or runny nose after taking regular antihistamine tablets, you might want to try targeting these symptoms with a steroid nasal spray.

These are meant for regular use to treat allergic rhinitis and they work by reducing inflammation inside the nose.

  • Cheapest branded steroid nasal spray - Beconase (100 sprays) £4, available at Asda* and Wilko*.
  • Cheapest own-brand steroid nasal spray - Boots Hay fever relief (200 sprays) £6.59, available at Boots.

Decongestant nasal sprays tend to be cheaper, but they're different medications and only designed for temporary use.

You might want to use one if you have a flare-up that causes a blocked nose and congestion as the main symptom.

  • Cheapest own brand decongestant nasal sprays:
  • Asda decongestant nasal spray (£1.50 for 15ml) - available from Asda
  • Tesco decongestant nasal spray (£1.85 for 15ml) - available from Tesco
  • Wilko decongestant nasal spray (£1.90 for 15ml) - available from Wilko

You can also try natural hay fever remedies like barrier balm, which traps allergens before they enter the nose.

A cheaper alternative is to use Vaseline or lip balm just under your nose.

Eye drops for allergies

If your eyes still feel dry, irritated or itchy after taking oral tablets, you might want to supplement treatment with eye drops.

Eye drops for hay fever commonly contain sodium cromoglicate, which is an antihistamine that also works to reduce inflammation.

Others contain 'natural' ingredients like Witch Hazel, or are simply saline solutions intended to wash out and lubricate the eye.

Cheapest branded antihistamine eyedrops:

  • Murine Hay fever drops - £2.99, available at Savers
  • Optrex Soothing eye drops - available for £3.80 at Wilko or £4 at Asda.

Many branded options are around the same price point as each other and you shouldn't need to pay more than £5 for an unmedicated version, and £6 for one containing sodium cromoglicate.

Buying hay fever medicines at online pharmacies

Another money-saving option is to buy allergy tablets in bulk from online pharmacies.

For example, you can get 90 loratadine tablets for £2.49 at Chemist4U (the equivalent of 83p for a 30 pack), and 180 cetirizine tablets for £4.49 (74p per 30 tablets).

If you're buying from an online pharmacy, make sure that it's registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council, and follow their tips for buying medicines safely online.

Remember also not to get too overzealous with stocking up - as you might not get hay fever in the same way or for as long from season to season (and tablets do go out of date), so it's best to stick with enough for the medium-term rather than buy too much in one go.


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