Penicillin is a frequently prescribed class of antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections. If you’ve had a negative reaction to penicillin (or any of its related drugs such as amoxicillin), you may be nervous that you’ve developed a penicillin allergy. An allergy occurs when your immune system labels penicillin as a threat and acts accordingly to flush it out of your system. In severe cases, anaphylaxis may occur.
In honor of National Penicillin Allergy Day on September 28, allow us to answer several frequently asked questions about a penicillin allergy:
What are the signs of a penicillin allergy?
For those who are truly allergic to penicillin, they may experience allergy symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rash
- Watery eyes
However, many people who think they are allergic to penicillin are not. Rather, they were either misdiagnosed, or they thought that completely normal reactions to the drug was an allergic reaction. Dr. Brauer can confidently confirm or deny your suspicions via a penicillin test.
Can a penicillin allergy go away over time?
Yes, it’s possible that a penicillin allergy will go away on its own. It’s recommended to be tested again after 5 years since the initial diagnosis. To determine if a penicillin allergy is still present, your Owensboro allergist will perform a penicillin test that is divided into three stages:
- Dr. Brauer will perform a highly sensitive skin test and assess your skin’s reaction.
- If the skin test was negative, Dr. Brauer will put the penicillin just under your skin (intradermal testing).
- If the intradermal test is negative, Dr. Brauer may ask you to take penicillin orally and assess the reaction (oral testing).
Are other drugs safe to take if I have a penicillin allergy?
Drugs that are in the same family as penicillin are not recommended to take if you have a penicillin allergy. Those drugs include:
Your doctor or allergist will discuss alternative antibiotics that are safe for you to take as you work through your penicillin allergy.