Does Afrin show up on a drug test? 

Does Afrin show up on a drug test? 

Afrin may show up on a drug test as it is known for causing a false positive for Amphetamines. The active ingredient present in Afrin – Oxymetazoline – is a vasoconstrictor and a decongestant. 

It is not structurally or chemically similar to Amphetamines, but it can produce a false positive for them. Oxymetazoline itself is not a controlled substance and does not classify as a drug of abuse. 

The main reason for getting a false positive for drug immunoassays is the cross-reactivity of the antibodies used in the test with drug components. 

This gives off inaccurate results. However, it still may not be the case every time and some people may get a negative after using Afrin. It’s quite unpredictable, but it’s best to stay on the safe side and inform the testing authorities that you are taking Afrin, which may cause a false positive for Amphetamines (1).

How long does Afrin stay in your system? 

Afrin (Oxymetazoline) has a half-life of about 6-14 hours, which is the time taken by this medication to reduce its concentration to half. The remaining concentration keeps reducing after every 6-14 hours until the entire drug is eliminated from your body (2). 

This process can take up to 36-70 hours (2-4 days). Some people may take longer to eliminate the drug from their body as drug metabolism can depend on different factors like age, weight, dosage strength, frequency, duration of treatment, and overall physiological well-being. 

How to avoid Afrin showing up on a drug test? 

You can avoid Afrin showing up on a drug test by not taking the medication during the last 2-4 days of your test date. This will allow your body to get rid of your last Afrin administration and the chances of you getting a false positive on this medication will significantly reduce.

However, you can continue using Afrin as the medication is not something usual drug tests look for. You can simply inform the drug testing authority that you are currently taking a medication that is capable of causing a false positive. 

If skipping the medication is something you can do, then go for it. However, this is not the case with every other medication. Some meds should never be stopped abruptly – like antidepressants. 

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Alyson Schwebach, Jennifer Ball. Urine Drug Screening: Minimizing False Positives and False Negatives to Optimize Patient Care. US Pharm. 2013;38(12):1-6. Available at:


PubChem [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; 2004-. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 4636, Oxymetazoline; [cited 2023 Jan. 18]. Available from: