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Allergic rhinitis is a common airway disease characterized by hypersensitivity, exudation, hypersecretion, inflammatory cell infiltration and remodelling. Intranasal glucocorticosteroids are the most effective drugs for controlling the inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis. Glucocorticosteroids exert anti-inflammatory effects through at least two pathways: the transactivation pathway and the transrepression pathway. Glucocorticosteroids also exert regulatory functions by inducing regulatory cytokines and forkhead box P3 (FoxP3+) regulatory T cells. Evidence suggests that intranasal glucocorticosteroids control not only nasal symptoms but also ocular symptoms. In contrast to sedating H1 receptor antagonists, intranasal glucocorticosteroids can improve impaired performance symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness, associated with allergic rhinitis. Recent studies suggest that intranasal glucocorticosteroids might also be useful for the prophylactic treatment of pollinosis; this possibility is supported by the molecular mechanism of the anti-inflammatory action of glucocorticosteroids. These findings suggest that intranasal glucocorticosteroids might be positioned as first-line drugs for the treatment of both perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis.