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First Aid & Emergencies

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Drug Allergy Treatment

Call 911 if the person has:

  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Tightness in the throat or a feeling that the airways are closing
  • Hoarseness or trouble speaking
  • Swollen lips, tongue, or throat
  • Nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat or pulse
  • Anxiety or dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hives and trouble breathing
  • Other symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Had severe reactions in the past

1. When to See a Doctor

See a doctor immediately for these symptoms:

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

Call the doctor as soon as possible if the person has:

  • Swollen face, tongue, or lips, even without breathing difficulty or increase in swelling
  • Skin rash, itching, a feeling of warmth, or hives

See Severe Allergic Reaction Treatment.

2. Stop Taking the Drug that Triggered the Reaction

3. Control Itching

For a mild reaction:

  • Give an adult an over-the-counter antihistamine. Check with a doctor before giving an antihistamine to a child.
  • Use cool compresses on the area or have the person take cool showers.
  • Avoid strong soaps, detergents, and other chemicals.
  • Stay in a cool room. Have the person wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothes.
  • For a rash, apply calamine lotion.

4. Follow Up

  • Call or see a doctor if home treatment doesn't help or symptoms get worse.
  • Talk to the doctor about an alternative medicine and what drug(s) to avoid in the future.
  • Serious symptoms may require a hospital stay.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on November 21, 2013

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