Drug Reaction Rashes: What Are They?
The term “drug reaction” refers to any disease or condition caused by taking a medication. Some common examples are allergic reactions (such as eczema), hepatitis, and even some types of cancer. A drug reaction may cause symptoms such as swelling, redness, pain, itching, dizziness, weakness or fatigue. These symptoms usually last only a few hours after taking the medicine and then they go away within a day or two.
If you have been diagnosed with a drug reaction, it’s very important that you get medical attention right away. If not, your body could react badly and lead to death. You need to take precautions when taking medicines, including those prescribed by doctors or taken without a prescription from pharmacies.
Drug Reaction Pictures: What Do They Look Like?
Picture 1 shows the typical rash on the skin caused by certain drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen. Picture 2 shows a severe drug reaction called a toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) which occurs when someone takes a combination of several different medications. TEN is one of the most dangerous forms of drug reaction.
Picture 3 shows the typical rash on the skin caused by certain drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen. Picture 4 shows a milder form of drug reaction called an allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). In this condition, the skin rash appears on the area of skin that contacted the medication, in this case the abdomen. This patient’s rash appeared several hours after taking a new medication and is now fading after stopping further intake of the drug.
Possible Causes Of Drug Reactions: Allergies & Unwanted Side Effects
In order to better understand drug reactions, it helps to know how drugs work in the body in general. There are two main types of drugs:
Prescription Medications (made in a lab)
Over-The-Counter Medicines (OTC)
OTC drugs include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and many others. These are available without a prescription. In order for them to be sold legally, they must go through a series of laboratory tests to make sure they do not cause harm when used as directed on the package insert.
Prescription drugs are those that require a prescription from a doctor in order to be sold. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict guidelines about what can and cannot go into a drug before it is approved for market distribution.
Both types of drugs, however, can cause side effects in some people, which is an adverse reaction to a medication. A life-threatening allergic reaction is known as an anaphylactic shock. In this case, the person is having an allergic reaction to the drug itself. There are three different types of allergic reactions:
Type 1: Immediate Hypersensitivity Reaction (like with penicillin)
Type 2: Delayed Hypersensitivity Reaction (like with sulfa drugs)
Type 3: Unique Entity (no known cause)
Sometimes a drug can cause a life-threatening reaction even if you’ve been taking it for a long time without problems. This is known as an idiosyncratic reaction and can occur with any drug at any time. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if a person is having an adverse drug reaction or a new illness causing the symptoms.
Aspirin is one of the most common drugs taken for pain and inflammation and is available over-the-counter (OTC). It is very safe for the majority of people, but can cause problems in some people, especially if you are allergic to it. Some of the common side effects include upset stomach and internal bleeding.
The most dangerous effect is a type 1 hypersensitivity, which can cause anaphylactic shock and even death. An allergic reaction will cause a rash, itching, swelling, and trouble breathing. If you ever experience trouble breathing after taking aspirin, seek emergency medical help immediately. An anti-itch medication (Hydrocortisone 1%) can help relieve the itching.
Aspirin is just one type of medication that people can be allergic to. If you experience a severe rash, trouble breathing, or swelling after taking any over-the-counter or prescription medication, seek medical attention immediately.
Drugs can have many side effects in some people which can cause reactions ranging from mild to severe. However, in some cases, the symptoms are so severe that they are life-threatening. In either case, it’s important to seek emergency help immediately if you experience symptoms like trouble breathing, swelling of the face or throat, or hives.
Drug reactions can be caused by prescription or over-the-counter medicines. However, some reactions have more of a potential for danger than others.
Common Reactions: These types of reactions are generally mild and don’t require emergency treatment. They include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Serious Reactions: These types of reactions are more serious and may need to be treated in the hospital. They include breathing problems, severe rashes, and seizures.
Drug Allergic Reactions: These reactions are extremely serious and can be fatal. They include anaphylactic shock, severe trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness.
There are two types of drug reactions. One is a side effect of the medication while the other is an allergic reaction to the medication.
A side effect is a negative effect that is an unintentional result of a medication. It can cause mild to severe symptoms, but not life-threatening ones.
An allergic reaction occurs when the body has an immune system response to a medication. The immune system can react in two different ways, leading to different symptoms and dangers.
A type 1 hypersensitivity reaction causes anaphylactic shock which can cause breathing difficulties and even death.
A type 2 hypersensitivity reaction causes a drug eruption. It can cause a rash and blisters similar to what happens with poison ivy or poison oak.
Often people who are allergic to one type of medication will be allergic to others, but this isn’t always the case. If you think that you are having an allergic reaction to a medication, it is important that you seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Symptoms to watch for include:
Swollen tongue, lips, or face
Bumpy, blistered rash
Extreme drowsiness or dizziness
Severe itching or swelling
If you experience these symptoms seek emergency medical attention immediately by calling 911.
There are some rare, but dangerous side effects of taking certain types of medication. For example, there are more than 300 medical conditions that can be made worse by the drug Ecotrin (a brand of Aspirin). It can cause unusual bleeding for some people and can even lead to death.
If you feel like you might be experiencing a rare side effect to the medication that you are taking, it is important that you seek medical attention right away. If a dangerous side effect does occur, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
In order to have the best chance at winning your lawsuit, you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. This can greatly improve your case.
If you or someone you love has experienced a serious reaction to a drug and believe that it may be due to a medication error, you may have the grounds to sue the at-fault party in court. In the state of California, you must file a lawsuit regarding medical malpractice within three years of the incident. To learn more, speak with a local personal injury lawyer.
Sources & references used in this article:
Management of drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS syndrome): an update by S Tas, T Simonart – Dermatology, 2003 – karger.com
Drug eruptions: 6 dangerous rashes by JJ Skonicki, JK Warnock – Current Psychiatry, 2008 – mdedge-files-live.s3.us-east-2 …
Factors influencing the incidence of lamotrigine-related skin rash by ICK Wong, GE Mawer… – Annals of …, 1999 – journals.sagepub.com