Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Doc, but I'm allergic to Penicillin

About 1 in 10 Americans avoid antibiotics because they think they are allergic.  The most common antibiotic blamed for allergy is penicillin.  The actual incidence of true penicillin allergy is very low.  This is a troubling problem as more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics. Penicillin is first line to treat many diseases including sinusitis and diseases during pregnancy making it important to know if you are actually allergic.

Here are some interesting facts on penicillin allergy
  • About 85-90% of people will out grow true penicillin allergy after ~10 years
  • There are 2 components in penicillin that can cause an allergic reaction
  • There is a skin test available for penicillin allergy that is up to 98% accurate for detecting penicillin allergy
  • An allergist can challenge you with penicillin in the office to detect if the allergy is true or not.

What should you do if you have penicillin allergy?
  • Get tested by an allergist to see if the allergy is true.
  • Your doctor will place various allergens on the skin and may challenge you will penicillin if the initial testing is negative.
Want to talk to me about your symptoms? Please call the office at 212-679-3574 or email me at jcollins@grammercy.com. As always you are welcome to visit our website to learn more.


  1. My mom always told me I was allergic to penicillin- I'm going to get tested. Thank you!

  2. Here's a great website on penicillin allergy http://www.pre-pen.com/