Antibiotic especially the ones included in the penicillin and sulfa groups are the common cause of drug allergies. Most cases of drug allergies usually cause swelling, hives, and skin rashes but some experience serious reactions known as anaphylaxis. Drug allergies are due to the reaction of the immune system to an antibiotic used for a foreign substance. This reaction triggers the inflammation on the skin, restricting airways and loss of consciousness.
Symptoms of antibiotic allergy
- The skin becomes red, itchy, swelling and flaky. Presence of a flattened area on the skin that is covered with small bumps and development of hives.
- Blistering of the skin or peeling, issues of the vision, severe swelling and itching.
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis which is a severe reaction
The symptoms of anaphylaxis such as dizziness, tingling, tightness of the throat, difficulty in breathing and wheezing require immediate medical attention.
- Take the prescribed oral antihistamines which works by increasing the passage of white blood cells in the body and lessens the production of histamine which the immune system releases in reaction to an allergen. Over-the-counter antihistamines can be used.
- Apply calamine lotion if there is rash or hives. It works by relaxing the itchiness and discomfort caused by the allergy. Calamine lotion has calamine and zinc oxide which are both anti-itch medications. Avoid applying near the mouth, nose, eyes, anal and genital areas.
- Apply over-the-counter low-dose hydrocortisone cream. It suppresses the immune system of the body to lessen the irritation on skin, itching and rashes. Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid and avoid using it more than 7 days to prevent complications such as itching, rashes and cracked skin. Apply on the affected areas 1-4 times every day for 7 days and avoid getting inside the eyes.
- Take a tepid bath to soothe the rashes on skin. Another way is to sprinkle baking soda, uncooked oatmeal or finely-ground colloidal oatmeal into the bath to lessen the itchiness. Avoid using soap to prevent making the condition worse.
- Apply a cold compress on the affected area. A cool and wet compress lessens the symptoms caused by rashes and hives. Cold, wet bandages or dressings relaxes the irritated skin and reduces inflammation by slowing down the flow of blood to the rashes.
- Avoid irritants such as cosmetics, fur and leather products, latex, dye used in clothing, coloring for the hair, nickel products, nail care products and soap and household cleaning products to prevent making the condition worse.
- Avoid scratching or rubbing the affected area. Scratching cause the skin to break which makes it susceptible to infection and delay the healing of the area.
- Avoid exposing the affected area to heat and humidity to prevent irritating the hives and rashes.
- Wear comfortable clothing if suffering from hives and rashes. Wear loose, smooth-textured clothing such as cotton. Avoid wearing clothes that cause constriction on the body that are rough and scratchy such as wool.