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I am allergic to penicillin – what now?

Many people are allegedly allergic to penicillin. Their mother had told them so….When they were little they had an infection, received some penicillin antibiotic and developed a rash….Their parent/sibling/cousin is allergic to penicillin so they are afraid they are as well (“it runs in the family”).

Does any of these stories sound familiar to you? If so, the following may be interesting to you:

More than 80% of people who thought they had a penicillin allergy, actually tolerate penicillin- antibiotics well. Penicillin-type antibiotics (called beta-lactams) are very efficient, low-side-effect antibiotics. That means in plain English: they work really well for a lot of infections and don’t cause any long-term side-effects. They are also cheap compared to other antibiotics. So, avoiding these really good antibiotics based on a vague story of a rash as a child, may not be beneficial in the long run.

The good news is: there is a test for penicillin. It’s a skin test in a few steps, followed by an oral challenge with the antibiotic. Your allergist will be able to help you and determine if you are a good candidate for this test. We provide this test at Narberth Allergy and Asthma.


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