A rash is the first sign that indicates that you have developed an allergy to sulfa. Read this article to understand the characteristics of this particular drug allergy in a better manner.
Basically sulfa is a short form of sulfonamides. It is a key component of various types of drugs and medicines. Besides being an ingredient of several antibiotics that are used for the treatment of different infections, it is also present in diabetic medicines, anti-inflammatory medicines, migraine medicines, diuretics, etc. A sulfa allergy can be described as a hypersensitive reaction of the body towards all such medicines that have sulfonamides. It has been found that a sulfa allergy occurs more due to antibiotic sulfonamides when compared to non-antibiotic medicines with sulfonamide content. Most people are not born with this drug allergy, but it develops later and can happen at any age. Those people who have problems with their immune system are more prone to developing this allergy. For this reason, it is quite commonly observed in HIV/AIDS patients.
Important Features of Sulfa Allergy Rash
► The most commonly visible symptom is the eruption of skin rash. Some people may get hives as well. All these symptoms start showing up soon after the use of the specific medicine that contains sulfonamides.
► As you take the medicine, the immune system responds by releasing histamines and antibodies resulting in this kind of skin reactions. In some cases, the rashes could be mild and in others they can be found all over the body.
► Mild to moderate itching sensation can be felt on these rashes. These rashes are usually extremely sensitive towards light. So, if they get exposed to direct sunlight, they worsen further.
► Generally, the rashes do not come alone and are accompanied by fever. In a serious allergic reaction, more serious symptoms could be observed along with the rash. If the respiratory system is attacked, then it causes wheezing, breathing difficulty, and pneumonia.
► Sometimes, it may result in a decrease of blood cells and platelets in the body. The condition tends to become life-threatening if the symptoms of anaphylaxis are noticed.
► This happens when the tissues inside the throat swell up to such an extent that the air passage gets blocked. It can be identified by shortness of breath, rapid pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and gradual loss of consciousness.
► While under sulfonamide medication, if rashes appear on the skin’s surface, then the first thing that needs to be done is to visit a doctor without wasting any time. Diagnosis is done by physical examination of the skin rashes and hives.
► There is no laboratory test that can detect this allergy. The treatment begins with the discontinuation of the concerned medicines that have triggered the allergy.
► This is done to reduce the chance of any further worsening of the symptoms. The eruption of the rashes and their itchiness is controlled with the help of antihistamine medicines. Skin inflammation is treated using corticosteroid medicines.
► The main aim of the treatment is not just treating the rashes but also other symptoms that are associated with it. Those who have symptoms of anaphylaxis attack are treated in the emergency room.
► This condition is treated with epinephrine (adrenaline) injections. It is followed by a proper respiratory and cardiac care. Sometimes, allergists try to desensitize the patient so that he or she can take sulfonamide medicines safely without the development of allergies.
► Here, small doses of the drug are given to the patient for a certain period of time so that the patient can tolerate it. Once the body is able to endure the drug, the dose is gradually increased.
As you can see that sulfa allergy rash should not be ignored, as it can result in a severe allergic reaction and the condition deteriorates in no time. Unfortunately, prevention of the allergy is not possible, because there is no such test that can detect it. However, if you have had it in the past, you can prevent its recurrence by avoiding the particular group of medicines. You should also keep your doctors and pharmacists informed that you are allergic to sulfa drugs.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.