Think you’re penicillin allergic but not sure? Allergy skin testing followed by a supervised oral challenge can help to rule this out. Allergy to penicillin and related antibiotics is the most commonly reported drug allergy in the United States. However, more than 85% of people who believe they are penicillin allergic are found to be skin test negative. Knowing you are not allergic could save you up to 60% on future antibiotic prescriptions and prevent the potential of antibiotic resistance in the future. The procedure for skin testing is easy, safe and takes approximately one hour to complete. If the skin test is negative, patients may be administered a dose of oral penicillin or amoxicillin and observed for one hour to confirm the ability to safely tolerate the drug.
Why are so many people incorrectly labeled as penicillin allergic? Many patients were never allergic in the first place — the rash you had when you were younger may have been due to a viral illness rather than to penicillin administered at that time. Also, many patients with true penicillin allergy lose their allergy over time.
Why do I want to know if I am not penicillin allergic? Penicillin antibiotics are often less expensive (some are free at local pharmacies), less toxic and more effective than other antibiotics. Plus, the over-use of penicillin alternatives is often related to development of drug resistant bacteria, which is a serious public health concern.
Who can be tested? Patients with a history of suspected penicillin allergy may be considered for testing. An Allergist can review your history and discuss your options and whether or not you may benefit from testing. For more information and additional helpful links, see www.MyAllergyAsthma.com.
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