Penicillin Allergy

What is a Penicillin Allergy?

Penicillin allergy occurs when the body has an abnormal reaction to the penicillin drug, which is often prescribed for the treatment of a variety of bacterial infections. Severe reactions could be dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

A patient will be more likely to develop an allergic reaction to penicillin if they tested positive via a skin test for the allergy, if hives develop quickly after taking the medicine, and if they experienced an anaphylactic reaction to the drug in the past.

What are the Symptoms of a Penicillin Allergy?

The symptoms that are associated with a penicillin allergy could happen within just an hour of taking this medicine. However, allergic reactions can also happen hours, days, or weeks after taking the drug, although that is less common.

Some of the symptoms of penicillin allergy include:

  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rash
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Anaphylaxis

How is a Penicillin Allergy Treated?

If you have an allergic reaction to penicillin, you will need to stop taking the medicine and let your doctor know right away so that he or she can confirm what treatment you should pursue. He or she will also recommend another antibiotic remedy that should be safer for you.

Mild reactions can be controlled with antihistamines, or your doctor can prescribe a medication, such as a corticosteroid, if over-the-counter remedies aren’t sufficient.

Epinephrine can be used to treat anaphylaxis, but you will also need to go to the hospital for treatment if this severe reaction occurs.

Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
August 24, 2017