Drug rash

    • Brief

    • A drug rash develops due to an allergic reaction to a medicine. It is a condition that mostly affects the skin. Reactions include darker skin, hives, itching, bumps and rash. In severe cases, the rash may spread to cover most of the body, with skin peeling and wounds.

      Medicines that mostly cause a rash are antiretroviral medicines, pain killers and antibiotics.

    • What are the symptoms?

      • Drug rashes appear as various forms of skin rashes which can be pink or red bumps, red patches or bumps with pus in them.
      • It can appear on the entire skin surface or on a few parts of the body.
      • Drug rashes may be itchy.
    • What are the causes?

    • You develop a drug rash mostly because of an allergic reaction or sensitivity to, or side-effect of a drug.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • Drug rashes can affect people of all races, age groups and both sexes. But it is more likely to be seen in elderly women than in men.

      Factors that can affect your chances of developing drug rashes include:

      • An underlying infection.
      • Taking three or more medicines every day.
      • A weak immune system, which may be due to an underlying disease or infection (e.g. HIV).

      Any medication can cause a rash, but it is more common with the use of certain types of drugs such as:

      • Antibiotics, antiretrovirals, painkillers and seizure medications (e.g. phenytoin).
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • In most cases, drug rashes are nothing to worry about. As they clear up once you are done taking the medicine that is causing the rash.

      However, if you experience a more severe drug rash that is rapidly spreading or causing difficulty in breathing, you should go to your healthcare provider immediately to avoid further complications.

    • How to prevent?

    • You cannot prevent drug allergies, but if you have an allergy to a type of drug, you must avoid using it again. Tell your healthcare provider about any past allergies or drug reactions you have had.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care Tips

      If your drug rash is mild or is it is limited to some area of your body, you may try the following:

      • Take a cool shower.
      • Apply calamine lotion.
      • Take an anti-allergy drug to help reduce the reaction (e.g. antihistamines).

      Do not try self-care measures for a severe or widespread drug rash. Go to your healthcare facility for further care.

      Treatment Options

      If, after about a week, your symptoms persist, you should consult your healthcare provider.

      • Your healthcare provider may discontinue the medication that is causing the rash. Do not stop using the medicine without consulting your healthcare provider.
      • You may be asked to carry out some blood test so that your healthcare provider can be sure of the exact medication that is causing the rash.
      • You may be given antihistamine pills such as loratadine for itching, creams or lotions for red skin.
      • You may also be given an antibiotic ointment if you have an open sore.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Drug rash is fairly common and can happen when using any medication. It will usually clear up after you stop taking the medicine that caused it, but don't do so without consulting your healthcare provider.