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Drug Allergy (cont.)

Self-Care at Home

For hives or localized skin reactions, perform the following:

  • Take cool showers or apply cool compresses.
  • Wear light clothing that doesn't irritate your skin.
  • Take it easy. Keep your activity level low.
  • To relieve the itching, apply calamine lotion (though it's not very effective) or take nonprescription antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton). There are new, dissolvable, non-sedating antihistamines that enter the system quickly and have fewer side effects than the ones mentioned above.

For more severe reactions, self-treatment is not recommended. Call your health-care provider or 911, depending on the severity of your symptoms. If you have symptoms of anaphylaxis, here's what you can do while waiting for the ambulance:

  • Try to stay calm.
  • If you can identify the cause of the reaction, prevent further exposure.
    • Take an antihistamine (one to two tablets or capsules of diphenhydramine [Benadryl]) if you can swallow without difficulty.
    • If you are wheezing or having difficulty breathing, use an inhaled bronchodilator such as albuterol (Proventil) or epinephrine (Primatene Mist) if one is available. These inhaled medications dilate the airway.
    • If you are feeling light-headed or faint, lie down and raise your legs higher than your head to help blood flow to your brain.
    • If you have been given an epinephrine kit, inject yourself as you have been instructed. The kit provides a premeasured dose of epinephrine, a prescription drug that rapidly reverses the most serious symptoms.
    • Bystanders should administer CPR to a person who becomes unconscious and stops breathing or does not have a pulse.
    • If at all possible, you or your companion should be prepared to tell medical personnel what medications you take and any known allergies.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2014

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Drug Eruptions »

Drug eruptions can mimic a wide range of dermatoses. The morphologies are myriad and include morbilliform (most common, see Media file 1), urticarial, papulosquamous, pustular, and bullous. Medications can also cause pruritus and dysesthesia without an obvious eruption.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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