Drug Allergy

Management and Care for Drug Allergy

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Learning the proper first aid treatment and management for a drug allergy is important because the adverse reaction of the body to certain medications can manifest symptoms that can be life threatening and may even cause death. Allergic reaction of the body to drugs occurs because the immune system finds certain drug chemical compositions as a threat to the body. The most common drugs that can cause an allergic reaction to the body include aspirin and penicillin. Allergic reactions can be considered a medical emergency as it may induce the occurrence of anaphylaxis, which is a potential life threatening condition.

Drug allergy symptoms

  • Skin reactions include measles-like rash, hives, photoallergy (rash formed following sun exposure), and erythema multiforme
  • Fever
  • headache
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Lymph node swelling
  • Inflammation of the kidney
  • Anaphylactic reactions usually manifest as adverse skin irritations, general body edema, breathing difficulty, hives, fainting, rapid or irregular pulse, and swelling of the tongue, face, lips throat, joints, hands and feet.

First aid care to a person with a drug allergy symptoms

Drug Allergy
Drug allergy can be accompanied by a headache

Management of hives and localized reactions

  • Take a cool shower and apply a cold compress on the affected areas
  • Wear light clothing that does not irritate your skin. Natural fiber such as cotton may be beneficial
  • Have an ample time to rest and keep your activities to a minimum.

How to control itching

  • You may apply calamine lotion or over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine or chlorphenamine maleate.
  • Use a cold compress on the affected area and have a cool bath or shower.
  • Avoid strong soaps, detergents or other chemicals.

When to seek medical care

Immediately call the emergency medical responder as soon as possible once anaphylactic symptoms become apparent. It should be imperative that help is immediately available once the person has trouble breathing and is showing some serious adverse reactions like:

  • Fast-spreading painful, red or blistered area on the skin
  • The top layer of the skin peels off in sheets without blistering
  • Scalded looking raw areas of flesh
  • Discomfort
  • Fever
  • Condition spreading to the eyes, mouth and genitals

What to do while waiting for the emergency team

  • Take note of the medication taken that can possibly cause the drug allergy.
  • Give an antihistamine to manage the allergy symptoms.
  • If there is difficulty in breathing and the feeling of a swollen throat is present, use a bronchodilator such as albuterol or epinephrine.
  • Ask the person to lie on the back and raise the legs higher than the head to promote blood flow to the brain and relieve the feeling of fainting.
  • In the event that the person becomes unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing, administer CPR as soon as possible.


UCLA Health. Drug Allergy. Retrieved on June 17,2014 from http://fooddrugallergy.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=29

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