It can be difficult to cope with penicillin allergy. Penicillins, such as amoxicillin, and related antibiotics are the most frequently prescribed antibiotics. If you have had a reaction to a penicillin in the past, it can be difficult and costly to come up with an alternative antibiotic that will work well and not cause an allergic reaction. Before being prescribed a more expensive antibiotic, learn about penicillin allergy and how it is diagnosed.
How Does Penicillin Allergy Develop?
In order to develop a penicillin allergy, you must first be exposed to the drug in most cases. After the initial exposure, the immune system may develop an antibody to the drug if it is deemed harmful. The next time you are exposed to a penicillin, an allergic reaction can occur. Rarely, reactions can occur with the first exposure to penicillins. Some patients develop an allergy over time due to increased and excessive exposure to the antibiotic through extended and frequent use.
It is important to note, however, that many patients labeled as being allergic to penicillin are not truly allergic. Also, if 10 or more years have past since a reaction, 80 to 90% of people will no longer be allergic. This is why an evaluation by an allergy and immunology specialist is important.
The testing for a diagnosis of penicillins allergy is quite simple. The doctor will use a plastic applicator and needle to introduce penicillin into the skin. If a red, itchy bump appears, it is indication of a true allergy. If the results are negative or inconclusive, you will then need to undergo an oral drug challenge to definitely determine if you are allergic. This can be done as a single dose or a graded challenge, in which you are given increasing doses of the antibiotic to see if an allergic reaction occurs. Allergy and immunology specialists are trained to diagnose and treat any allergic reactions that may occur.
If you feel that you or your child may have a penicillin allergy, contact our offices today for an appointment for allergy testing and treatment.