Fexofenadine - Telfast New Zealand
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Published on September 11, 2019


What is fexofenadine and what is it used for?

Fexofenadine is an antihistamine, which is a type of medication used by allergy sufferers to help relieve allergy symptoms.

While fexofenadine can’t cure allergic conditions, it can provide relief from the following allergy symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes, throat or nose

Some fexofenadine products can also provide relief from the following:

  • Itchy skin rash
  • Hives (urticaria)

For further information on which product may be appropriate speak to your health care professional.

How does fexofenadine work?

Fexofenadine, like other antihistamines, works by stopping the effects of histamine. Histamine is a chemical substance released by the body’s immune system as a response to allergy. Histamine is generally very helpful, however in allergic reactions there may be too much histamine released which leads to symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes and swelling.

Fexofenadine is a non-sedating antihistamine which means it does not make you drowsy or slow down your reactions.

Benefits of fexofenadine

  1. Non-drowsy – fexofenadine is a second-generation antihistamine and does not cause drowsiness.
  2. Fast-acting (works in 1 hour) – fexofenadine provides fast relief of the allergy symptoms listed above, working in 1 hour.
  3. Provides 24-hour relief – fexofenadine, in higher doses (such as in Telfast 180mg tablets), provides relief of symptoms for 24 hours, meaning that it can be taken once a day at the same time. This is convenient for the allergy sufferer as it allows them to have an easy routine when it comes to treating their allergy symptoms.
  4. Relieves many symptoms – particularly relevant for allergy sufferers who experience more than one allergy symptom, fexofenadine relieves the following variety of symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itching. Some fexofenadine products also relieve symptoms of skin rashes and hives.
  5. Can be used every day – fexofenadine can be taken every day, with different products being available for sufferers with both seasonal or year-round allergies.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.

History of fexofenadine

There is a long history when it comes to the development of fexofenadine and other antihistamines. The first antihistamines released to the market were called first-generation antihistamines – they generally caused effects such as drowsiness and thirstiness in users. In general, first-generation antihistamines crossed the blood-brain barrier, and showed less sensitivity to histamine.1

To overcome these side effects, second-generation antihistamines were developed in the 1980s, with a variety of improvements. Fexofenadine is classed a second-generation antihistamine having first been registered for relief of allergic rhinitis symptoms in 1996.  Fexofenadine has minimal blood-brain crossover, and thus is non-drowsy, and it also has a high specificity for blocking histamine activity.1

Fexofenadine vs. other antihistamines2,3,4

Fexofenadine is a widely used second-generation antihistamine, and some other examples of these are cetirizine and loratadine. There are many similarities between the three antihistamines, including the following:

  • They are fast acting and work in 1 hour.
  • They relieve a variety of symptoms, including sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy eyes, throat and nose. Some products containing these antihistamines also relieve the symptoms of itchy skin rash and hives.
  • They treat hayfever, pet allergies, dust allergies and mould allergies. Some products containing these antihistamines also treat hives.

The key difference between these three second-generation antihistamines, is that fexofenadine is non-drowsy, and so is loratadine, but cetirizine can cause drowsiness in the user. To clarify:

Type of antihistamine Sedation effect
Fexofenadine2 Non-drowsy
Loratadine3 Non-drowsy
Cetirizine4 May cause drowsiness

It’s always important to seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor to determine which medication is right for you.

Who is fexofenadine suitable for?

Fexofenadine is suitable for most sufferers of hayfever allergy symptoms. It helps ease symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and runny nose and itchy throat. Some fexofenadine products are also suitable for people suffering with symptoms of itchy skin rash or hives (urticaria) associated with allergies.

Fexofenadine can be used from ages 6 months and older for relief of symptoms of urticaria, otherwise known as hives or itchy skin rash.

Fexofenadine can be used from ages 2 years and up for relief for relief of hayfever allergies.

Who is fexofenadine not suitable for?

Caution is required if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medicine.

Fexofenadine products are not suitable for you if you have an allergy to fexofenadine or any of the excipients of the product.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.


1 Kawauchi et al 2018, Antihistamines for Allergic Rhinitis Treatment from the Viewpoint of Nonsedative Properties, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, accessed 13/8/19.

2 Telfast Product Information 25/03/2019

3 Zyrtec Product Information 03/04/2014

4 Claratyne Consumer Medicine Information 01/11/2013

Learn about which Telfast product may be appropriate for you.



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