Seasonal changes are no picnic for those with seasonal allergies. If your head explodes with the blossoming flowers or falling leaves, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans struggle with allergies each year, making it the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
Most allergy sufferers turn to over-the-counter products to combat symptoms including watery eyes, sniffly noses, sneezing, and coughing, but it can be hit-or-miss. Products that work well for some aren’t effective for others or even stop working over time, and it can be tiresome to find the right match for you.
Enter Picnic. This subscription-based telehealth company develops allergist-picked, personalized treatment plans based on your specific triggers and symptoms, and it delivers them right to your door. How effective is Picnic? We tested it out and detailed our research and experiences below to help you decide if Picnic is the allergy solution for you.
- Provides both prescription and OTC medications
- Pricing is comparable to drug stores and online retailers
- “Care team” comprised of licensed physicians and allergists
- Personalized treatment addresses your specific triggers and symptoms
- Accepts HSA and FSA cards
- First month free on 3-month supplies
- Doesn’t treat all forms of allergies – focuses on allergic rhinitis (in eyes and sinuses)
- Does not accept insurance
- No shipping outside of the U.S.
With a staff of licensed allergists and a wide variety of treatments, you’re in good hands with Picnic -- and the 1 month free discount on your first three orders is a breath of fresh air.
Picnic takes the headache out of allergy treatment by providing personalized treatment plans devised by their team of highly qualified allergists and delivering the right mix of medications to your door.
In order to give you the most accurate, curated information about Picnic and their catalog, we focused on the things that are most important to you as a customer: whether or not their service is high-quality, how much it might take out of your budget, and the variety of products they offer. As always, telehealth is a deeply personal affair, so privacy and customer service are important to this review as well.
Quality of care
8.7 / 10
Picnic follows a hands-off approach to allergy care. The medications you purchase depend on your own interpretation of your symptoms, whether that’s through the allergy quiz or simply shopping on your own, and what’s actually happening can be mysterious. (Sometimes, for example, sinus congestion can lead to an upset stomach.) However, the licensed physicians and allergists on staff are top-notch, providing swift and accurate care at your earliest convenience.
8.7 / 10
With a catalog that has expanded in recent months, you can count on Picnic to have a specifically curated range of allergy care products. They don’t have everything – if you’re looking for inhalers, steroids, or stronger prescriptions, you’ll be out of luck – but for the average person, Picnic has enough to cover the bases. Their thirteen-product catalog has substantially more formulas than their competitors, who offer half of that on average. And if their products don’t work for you, their physicians and allergists can help you find an alternative that will.
9.0 / 10
Picnic is very hesitant to mark up any prices from in-store allergy options, to your benefit. They don’t take insurance, but you can use your HSA or FSA cards at checkout. Even without them, your most expensive option will cost less than $60, and consultation fees are less than half of what competitors charge. Plus, place your order in three-month increments and save up to 30% more.
8.8 / 10
Getting a new allergy medication with Picnic – or a refill on an old favorite – is as easy as taking a five-minute quiz. If you need prescription medication, you won’t even need to change out of pajamas to be presentable for a video call. All you’ll need is to submit a picture of your government-issued ID and have a quick telemedicine appointment over their in-site messaging service. Within 24 hours of placing your order, your prescription will be on the move. The four to six days you’ll wait for your order to be processed and ship to your door will be a breeze.
8.8 / 10
Like all other telemedical sites, Picnic uses top-of-the-line industry privacy measures to keep your information safe. Everything you share with the site, consciously or unconsciously, stays with them under lock and key until you give explicit consent to share it elsewhere. This applies especially to any communications you may have with the physician or allergist on staff.
While they operate on an informed consent model, Picnic doesn’t always make the “informed” part clear – check the bottom of each page for the informed consent sheet to see what you’ve agreed to.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers like you make more informed decisions to live healthier lives. We extensively test each health service we review.
Our team has spent over 62 hours testing and researching Picnic and its closest competing services in order to give you an unbiased exploration of your allergy options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. Through a thorough and deliberate approach to what we encounter along the way, we evaluate services based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, this review of Picnic, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Picnic is a subscription-based company that creates personalized plans for allergy treatment and delivers medications to your doorstep. They provide both over-the-counter and prescription-strength treatments with licensed physicians and allergists working behind the scenes with you. Their medications offer relief from allergic rhinitis – common ear, nose, throat, and eye symptoms akin to hayfever – and include oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops, antileukotrienes, and herbal remedies.
Picnic’s parent company, Thirty Madison, also owns several other well-known and well-regarded online health companies, including Keeps, Cove, and Evens. Thirty Madison’s services and products are highly rated across the industry – and in our view – and improve the accessibility and convenience of receiving care for chronic health concerns through the Internet.
Since some of Picnic’s products require prescriptions, their services are currently exclusive to the United States.
Picnic’s treatments are specifically focused on allergic rhinitis – also called hay fever – which affects more than 20 million adults and can have many triggers, including:
- Tree and grass pollens
- Mold spores
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
Seasonal allergies are a form of allergic rhinitis triggered by environmental changes and plants or molds blooming at different times of the year. Allergic rhinitis has many of the same symptoms as the common cold, with a few extras:
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose
- Sinus pressure
- Itchy throat
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
To treat allergic rhinitis, Picnic uses prescription and over-the-counter medications. You will need to complete a brief consultation over in-browser messages with a medical professional from Picnic’s Care Team before your order ships. This consultation takes ten minutes or less and is only necessary to complete annually. It costs $5 for a consultation, which is substantially cheaper than most other telemedicine consultations. All Picnic doctors are licensed in the state in which they operate, and they typically complete your consultation within a few hours – no additional contact necessary.
As a subscription service, Picnic will automatically refill and ship your medications every one or three months, depending on your preference. Ordering three months of supplies saves you significantly more money. For example, one of our testers ordered a three-month supply of the prescription desloratadine, or generic Clarinex, for $63. This is 30% less than purchasing it in a one-month supply for $30.
Taking Picnic’s quiz is essential if you want to maximize everything they have to offer. It’s where you’ll be matched with both medications and a physician or allergist who will help you through the process. If you need a prescription, you won’t be able to get one without taking the quiz first.
The quiz itself is simple. It took our testers less than ten minutes to complete, but still comprehensively measures all of the ways your allergies affect your life. The questions include:
- What are your symptoms?
- When do you experience them? In what seasons?
- How much do they impact your life?
- What medications have you previously tried? What’s worked (if anything)?
- Here’s what we’re likely to recommend. Have you tried these before? Is there anything you’d be willing to try again?
- Are you open to trying new medications?
- Are there any other things you’ve tried to manage your symptoms? (Options here include immunotherapy, acupuncture, supplements, and air purifiers, among others)
At the bottom of every page, a Picnic Tip gives an explanation, insider secret, or further direction on what they’re asking or why. Pay attention to these – they often provide a deeper level of insight that our testers found useful.
After you’ve completed the quiz, you’ll be asked to create a profile to save your recommendations. This consists of just your name, email address, birthday (to fill any prescriptions through their pharmacy if need be), and what state you’re in (for legal and licensure purposes).
From there, you’ll get to see Picnic’s final recommendations for you. The page explains why they recommend it for you, any specific advice from allergists about when to take the product or other nitty-gritty details, and all relevant drug and safety information. If any of the products are prescriptions, this will be noted and you’ll be given instructions to complete the virtual consultation. Otherwise, you can modify your cart as you desire or go ahead and check out.
Picnic offers 13 over-the-counter and prescription allergic rhinitis treatments, adding a new oral antihistamine and an antileukotriene to their catalog. All of the products that require a prescription have been marked with an asterisk below.
We’ve listed the one-month supply prices here, but it’s important to note that purchasing medications in three-month quantities offers significant savings. If you know you’ll need them on an ongoing basis, it makes sense to opt for a subscription plan.
Oral antihistamines are often the first line of defense against seasonal allergies and allergic rhinitis. They work by decreasing the number of histamines that can bind to cells in your body, blocking histamines from creating what we recognize as allergy symptoms. Picnic’s oral antihistamine selection includes:
Desloratadine* (generic Clarinex) – $30
A prescription-strength 24-hour non-drowsy antihistamine providing relief from a sneezing, sniffly nose, and itchy, watery eyes
Fexofenadine (generic Allegra) – $21
A non-drowsy antihistamine providing 24-hour relief from sneezing, a runny or itchy nose, itchy throat, and itchy, watery eyes
Levocetirizine* (generic Xyzal) – $20
A prescription-strength 24-hour formula that will relieve you of sneezing, an itchy and runny nose, throat itchiness, and itchy, watery eyes. It has the same active ingredient as cetirizine, but contains less other stuff in the formula for a stronger punch.
Diphenhydramine (generic Benadryl) – $13
A common over-the-counter oral antihistamine that stops itching, watery eyes, a scratchy throat, and a runny nose. It can be taken up to a few times a day, but is best taken at bedtime as it induces sleepiness.
Cetirizine (generic Zyrtec) – $16
A 24-hour, fast-acting antihistamine that provides relief from sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes. It takes two to three hours to reach maximum effect before lasting the rest of the day, so we recommend taking it before bed.
Loratadine (generic Claritin) – $16
A 24-hour, fast-acting antihistamine that provides relief from sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. It was the first over-the-counter antihistamine, and has held up as a solid choice.
Don’t shy away from nose sprays for allergy relief. They are often either antihistamines or steroids, depending on the symptoms you’re trying to prevent, and effectively block allergy responses at the source in your sinuses for fast, effective relief. Picnic’s intranasal options include the following medications.
- Fluticasone (generic Flonase) wallops nasal congestion that an oral antihistamine can’t clear up on its own as a steroid medication without a prescription. It also combats hard-to-treat nasal symptoms, itchy, watery eyes, and throat itchiness. The price is $22.
- Mometasone* (generic Nasonex) is a prescription-strength steroid nose spray that’s great for relieving symptoms related to inflammation as well as congestion, sneezing, an itchy or runny nose, and itchy throat. The best part is that there’s no bad taste sometimes associated with nose sprays. Picnic sells it for $58.
- Azelastine* (generic Astepro) gives you prescription-strength relief for runny noses, congestion, and post-nasal drip. It is a fast-acting antihistamine nasal spray, delivering medication straight to the sinuses to stop symptoms in their tracks. You’ll pay $44.
Currently, Picnic only stocks one type of eye drop. Azelastine eye drops (generic Optivar) are prescription-strength eye drops for treating itchy, watery eyes. They do require a prescription and virtual consultation to ship. At Picnic, they cost $26.
Picnic has recently started offering a common antileukotriene to offer antihistamines some serious backup. Montelukast (generic Singulair) is a prescription oral antileukotriene that works to help subdue both allergies and bronchial asthma, which is often comorbid with allergic rhinitis. It works by blocking leukotriene receptors to decrease inflammation in the lining of your nose and promote bronchoconstriction, which opens up any constriction in your airways. This relieves congestion, runny noses, itchy noses, and sneezing, as well as any coughs you may have. One months’ supply costs $20.
If prescription-strength medications aren’t your style but simple over-the-counter remedies aren’t stopping your symptoms comfortably, Picnic also sells two natural remedies.
- Honey lemon flavored throat lozenges ($8) provide relief from sore throats caused by mucus through re-hydrating the throat. Honey, which is a traditional way of suppressing coughs, adds a nice soothing bonus.
- Saline nasal spray ($5) is a simple and naturally effective salt-water mixture that washes away allergens from your sinuses (and whatever else might be up there).
Because Picnic is a subscription service, orders will automatically refill every one or three months, depending on the plan you selected. If you want to adjust or cancel your subscription, you’ll need to email Picnic’s customer support line. You can cancel your subscription at any time without penalty.
Shipping from Picnic takes three to five business days to arrive and costs a flat rate of $3. If you’d prefer to use your local pharmacy, you can always reach out to Picnic’s customer care team and request that they send your order there. However, they can’t guarantee that pricing will stay the same as it is through their partner pharmacy.
Insider Tip: If you need your order ASAP, reach out to Picnic’s customer support – they won’t offer rush shipping to everyone, but they can work with you to find a way to get your medications in your hands as soon as you need them.
Picnic can’t offer refunds or returns because medications packaged once legally cannot be resold to others, even if you haven’t opened the bottle. That said, they will gladly exchange or replace defective or damaged items.
Picnic is a self-pay service, meaning you cannot use insurance. Most of their products (7 of 13) are over-the-counter, which insurance will not cover regardless of where you purchase them. However, you can use your HSA or FSA card to pay for your subscription. If your card is not accepted, shoot Picnic an email – they’ll work with their payment processors to get your payment to go through and will make it easier for others with your same card to use it in the future.
If you have general questions, check out Picnic’s comprehensive FAQ first. They have virtually every common question listed, so you might be able to find an answer without having to wait for a reply. If it’s not, however, there are multiple avenues you can use to reach out to customer support:
- Email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Call (205)-875-8432
They do not currently have an in-browser real-time chat. There is an option to write a message on the bottom right-hand corner of every page, but those are distributed to Picnic through email. Customer support hours are weekdays (Monday through Friday) from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern Time.
If you have medical questions or questions specific to your prescriptions, Picnic offers a patient portal specifically to message the physicians and allergists on staff. Picnic replies to these messages quickly, and the messages are protected by HIPAA privacy laws so all information you share is confidential.
Picnic does their best to keep your information secure. They follow HIPAA, meaning that all of your private health information and communication with the doctor you speak with (if applicable) is kept under strict confidentiality. They won’t share your information with anyone unless they have your explicit consent to do so.
They also operate under an informed consent model. This means that they will provide you with a fact sheet explaining all of the potential risks and benefits of using their telemedicine service and you will provide your consent by checking a box before your order is placed. For the most part, this informed consent is typical, addressing the pros and cons of telemedicine. They also specifically state that if you have any concerns, need follow-up, or have a complaint to file, you can do so directly with the company by calling (205) 875-8432 or emailing email@example.com. If you ever forget what you consented to or have questions about particulars, remember that Picnic links to the informed consent form at the bottom of every page.
With sleek, minimalistic branding, Cleared is looking to be your histamine receptors’ worst nightmare. They are a lot like Picnic – an allergy-focused subscription system, starting with a personalized quiz and ending with the right allergy medications for you at low costs – but they offer a wider range of products. You can find allergy tests, immunotherapy tablets, air purifiers, and sinus and immunity supplements at Cleared as well.
They are also partnered with select in-person providers to administer blood and skin prick allergy tests. Their gallery of prescription-strength or higher allergy solutions is vast, so if you need something with a little more oomph, Cleared may be the best option for you.
Curist doesn’t stop – or start – their catalog with allergy medication. This online retailer aims to make over-the-counter medicine accessible for everyone using generic formulas for everyday medications (approved by the FDA) delivered to your door. From allergy tablets to heartburn to cold relief, Curist has everything your local pharmacy sells at comparable prices or less. Most of their products are sold in larger quantities than average, with 90-count allergy relief being the standard rather than the exception. However, that means they have a much narrower selection of allergy products. If you need something other than levocetirizine or generic Flonase, you’ll be out of luck.
You can get both oral antihistamines and nasal sprays from Roman, a catch-all service for men. Though you might think of hair loss or ED treatment as the most important parts of men’s care, allergies affect people of all genders. Though they offer prescription-strength treatment, there are only two different formulas of both nasal sprays and antihistamines. Roman charges a flat rate of $29/month (or $19/month for a three-month subscription), a substantial jump higher than Picnic’s prices. However, if you’re trying to stay on top of more than one health concern as a man, you might feel it’s worth the price to consolidate your needs for the sake of convenience.
Rory is Roman’s 50-and-up female counterpart. Designed as a catch-all service for older women to discuss things they might feel uncomfortable discussing with their primary care provide – like menopause symptoms and sexual health – Rory nonetheless provides care for every part of you. Allergies are a big part of Rory’s system, offering four allergy medications: two nasal sprays, a prescription-strength oral antihistamine, and an antileukotriene. After a virtual visit with a physician, you can get medication delivered starting at $29/month (a significant leap up in price from Picnic).
Lemonaid is the closest thing out there to a full-service online hospital or provider network. They offer just about every simple medical consultation and a nice selection of testing, from blood type to HbA1C. You can also obtain prescriptions for everything from birth control to antidepressants. As you might expect, they also provide allergy care. It’s not its own separate section with dedicated fee structures or assessments, but is part of Lemonaid’s general care program.
You can still get advice and both over-the-counter and prescription allergy medication prescribed and shipped straight to your door, though it won’t go through insurance, HSA, or FSA. A consultation to get you there is expensive, though, at $75 for a thirty-minute appointment.