Penicillin Allergy

A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that the vast majority of people who think they are allergic to penicillin, are not; and taking penicillin does not increase their risk for becoming allergic to penicillin.

Ten percent of North Americans have had some type of reaction, usually a skin rash, after taking penicillin and therefore think that they are allergic to penicillin. More than 80 percent of these individuals have a negative skin test for penicillin and never were allergic to penicillin; their skin rash was caused by the infection being treated by the penicillin. A negative penicillin skin test almost always rules out a future serious reaction to penicillin. Therefore almost all people who think that they are allergic to penicillin and have negative skin tests for penicillin allergy, can take penicillin safely and are not likely to become allergic to penicillin if they take that antibiotic many times afterwards.

Lack of penicillin resensitization in patients with a history of penicillin allergy after receiving repeated penicillin courses. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2002, Vol 162, Iss 7, pp 822-826. R Solensky, HS Earl, RS Gruchalla. Solensky R, Corvallis Clin, 3680 NW Samaritan Dr, Corvallis,OR 97330 USA

Checked 11/9/11

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