Can you develop an allergic reaction to meds after taking them for a while?

My go told me yesterday that the "bites" i have so many of aren't, they're an allergy to something. She's given me an antihistamine. Asked me if I'd been near poison ivy - I haven't!

I can't think of anything and I've had them for a good couple of months. I've never had anything like this before. I'm not an allergic kind of person, if you know what I mean! My diet's the same as always, ditto toiletries, washing powder etc.

All I can think of is my meds.

Have any of you ever had this kind of reaction to either:-

Azathioprine, hydroxychloraquine, amitriptyline, lansoprazol, tramadol, naproxen.

Bearing in mind I've been on all of them for a number of years EXCEPT for aza which has been only 8 months.

If any of you have had a skin reaction to any of the dmards it might be worth me taking it up with my rheumy. As for the others my gp for alternatives.

It would help me know where to begin if any of you could help.

Many thanks. 🌻🌷🌼🌹

23 Replies

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  • YOU may not have changed anything - but the manufacturers may have changed the ingredients! Whether it is toiletries, washing powder, medications or whatever.

    And you never develop an allergy the first time your body meets something - it can be the second or the thousand and second or the ten thousand and second time. So yes, you could have developed an allergy without you having changed or introduced something new.

    And the really bad news? Redness, itching, rash, red spots on skin - at least one of all of these gets a mention somewhere on the list of side effects for each of the drugs you have listed. So it isn't going to be an easy job identifying which is the possible culprit!

  • Hmmm, that's what I thought. 😐😕

    Thanks for the reply.

  • You could ask to try leaving out one at a time - lansoprolol could be switched for ranitidine which does the same but has a different mechanism. There are other NSAIDs besides naproxen. The balance of the DMARDs will be trickier.

    Best of luck - itching because of a drug is HORRIBLE!!!!!!! I had a reaction to an ACE inhibitor - started round my neck and then spread outwards and downwards! The hospital staff ignored me - until I found a consultant to tell and he jumped! Large red note "NO ACE INHIBITORS" on my file now... :-)

  • Yes I had a very similar sounding reaction to Hydroxichloraquine which started after about 14 months. I stopped taking it after 18 months and the bite-like spots subsided, as did the swelling around my face and the lip swelling that I had begun to develop. With GP we tried replacing lansoperzole with Ranitidine and antihistamines galore and stopped all pain meds, which I can't tolerate anyway for my liver. Tramadol presented like a stroke every time I tried it so not an option. It was the Hydroxy for me without a shadow of doubt - the bites and swelling disappeared immediately I stopped.

    My then rheumy commented that I could have just halved my dose of Hydroxy from 400 to 200 rather crossly when I presented myself in a flare to him a week or so after stopping. GP got irritated by this and said that you don't reduce a dose of something that is taking you towards anaphylaxis - you have to stop it! New rheumies have since queried this and other listed severe reactions. They think it seems strange to develop an allergic reaction after being fine on it for a long period. But when I describe the skin reactions or pancreatitis or extreme nausea they back off quickly!

    Also had faster but similar allergic reactions to Sulfasalazine (anaphylaxis after 3 weeks) and Amlodipine and very dramatic scurvy-like skin reaction to Nifedipine once i restarted Methotrexate injections. Aza caused pancreatitis twice when I was encouraged to re take it and it nearly killed me!

    But hey - it happened and I'm just a very strange woman - end of!

  • Ps all immunesuppressants I've tried have given me ugly little bite like spots on my face - I've decided that it's the suppressed immune system letting mites get hold of my hair follicles so I face scrub nightly but makes no odds. They aren't allergic though - just ugly! X

  • I'm aware of your reactions overy the years. Have you always been an "allergic" person?

    I've never been really, the other scenario would be that it's lupus connected...?

    ...The gp I saw yesterday feels I'm flaring and has prescribed another short course of pred. (pleurisy pains, really "burningly" dry eyes, joint pain, tingly buzzing and burning hands with seriously cranked up fatigue and general run down, feeling like I'm coming down with something) I wondered if I had lurking chest infection.

    My lupus rashes tend to be more like prickly heat, itchy but not these bigger individual spots... Or sunburn type rashes.

    I hope it's not hydroxy as it's helped considerably. I've been on it for 3 years.

    Trouble is like Pro said, when you read the patient info on all meds they list hives, rashes etc!

    Hope you're feeling on top of things symptom wise.

    Take care, x

  • Yes highly allergic all my life, severe eczema, Alopecia Areata, idiopathic allergies. Anaphylaxis etc.

    I don't suffer from any of these now though - just the odd drug reaction affecting my skin and I recognise the start very quickly now and just stop. The Hydroxy one was very different to others - it started as large itchy, painful spots around my face and neck and spread around the edges into my scalp in the form of hives. It was horribly painful and I was tested for Lupus (antibodies) by my GP, rheumy and finally saw a dermatologist and a Vasculitis expert the same week because of it - but by that time it has subsided because I had already stopped Hydroxy. I often think I've probably got a Mast Cell Activation Disorder but if so there's not much they can do apart from be aware. I take Piriton every night - always have taken antihistamines and got emergency supply of Pred stashed too. But as I say - since developing a full blown connective tissue disease the allergies have been replaced by this.

    Hydroxy worked really well for me second time round when off Methotrexate. It's gutting when another drug bites the dust when it's been working well. Hope it's not Hydroxy for your sake.

    I'm wiped out with painful finger tips and raging tinnitus, breathlessness/ hoarseness and fatigue. My instinct says that Mycophenolate isn't working for me but feel I have to keep with it until December now as discussed with rheumy last week. X

  • I wonder about sjogrens as a secondary with me, very dry eyes and wonder if my throat symptoms could be down to dryness as well but I do seem to have saliva so maybe not.

    Hope your symptoms ease if you rest? As for myco, I'm really sorry.

    I sometimes feel like that about aza - I'd hoped I'd stop flaring. However it DID stop my hair falling out which was a big reason for me starting it. And i HAD had less pleurisy - initially.

    Gp thinks I need to increase dose.

    Take care and enjoy the weekend, breathe in some nice clean air - I'm in central London so envy you!

  • Just to reply that I have plenty of saliva too! X

  • Oh 🤔 interesting! 🙂

  • Sjögren's is like Lupus - it is a multisystem disease and not everyone has a dry mouth anymore than everyone with Lupus has a butterfly rash!

  • Hi Soootired. So sorry to hear that your having problems with this.

    I had a severe adverse rection to hydroxychloroquine.

    Just diagnosed and it was the first treatment prescribed. When I started it I was also taking prednisilone, which was then slowly reduced.

    Within days of stopping the steroids I came out in a blotch rash on my chest, which then spread to the whole of my body, before my entire skin surface turned into what I can only describe as burning sheets of skin. I also had a systemic reaction - high temperature, aching muscles and joints, headache etc.

    I ended up in A & E having IV steroids and antihistamines - took a week for the burning to subside to a red rash, which then slowly subsided.

    It's thought that the steroids suppressed the allergic reaction, which had a riot when the steroids were stopped.

    So...no more hydroxychloroquine for me (especially because of the systemic reaction).

    It's a shame, baecause I had just started to notice small improvements.

    That was last January and Imhave only just now started on Azothioprine, so I'm hoping for better things with that.

    Your reaction doesn't seem so extreme, but it sounds like it will be quite tricky to identify the culprit 😳. If indeed drugs are the culprit, though it does sounds like a distinct possibility 🤔.

    Good luck. Hope you get it sorted soon 👍

  • Fortunately not as extreme as yours!

    Thanks for the reply.

  • Allergic skin reactions to meds are embarrassing and unpleasant and even if not serious they can cause distress. Long term they Nould not be tolerated by the patient. I did for five years.

    Sulphasalazine (or silver sardines as my hubby called them!) gave me itchy red blotches and hives type reactions in indirect or direct sun or just if it was bright outside. I suffered years of it as my rheumy said It wasn't caused by Sulphasalazine! I knew very well it was!! I researched and found it was indeed caused by it and was referred to as Urticaria Solaris. It was long lasting .. All day and often the next day still there. I could not expose my legs in summer or short sleeves. However unleashing my legs on the world is a cruel act I have to say!! 😂 I couldn't sit near a window in summer and if we were going anywhere in the car it would start to itch through the car windows if sunny. I had to drape myself in light scarves and a brimmed hat! (I had to be a stand in Godparent last minute when a woman got stuck on a massive traffic jam on the motorway!) and stand at the front of a full church with a blotchy red face and neck. Comments were made after!! 😖)

    I agree with the posts re manufacturers changing a small element in the ingredients of the tablets etc.. Just a starch or stearate etc which we don't usually take could be the culprit. I know a lady who had this with her painkillers and was very allergic. I am allergic to many things but have tolerated some RA meds and others not. I was highly allergic to Enbrel (huge red circles of raised itching for days and I saw this was common to a lot of people) and of course Sulpha. I'm telling my rheumy I don't want a biosimilar next infusion time instead of actual Rituximab.

  • It is miserably itchy and the antihistamine hasn't helped.

    I have a task ahead of me!

    Glad you sorted yours out in the end with sulpha.

    I find it frustrating with pharmacists when I tell them I can't take quinoric (brand of hydroxy ) because it gives me reflux. There's one generic brand I can take where the tablets are a yellow colour or the new one like plaquenil (can't remember the name - it begins with z ?) And the pharmacist kept trying to convince me that there was no reason for me not to take it... kept trying to explain what it meant to be a generic brand... same ingredients etc i firmly said that it was my oesophagus being messed up and i didn't want to mess my body up any more than it already is!

    They now give me the ones I can take I think they order them in for me.

    Be firm about your infusion. 😊

  • I know what you're saying .. Sometimes some pharmacists are insistent there's no difference in two manufacturers' meds but we know different when we have a reaction! I'm glad you've been assertive and said you can't have a certain brand and the pharmacy recognise this now. Luckily my pharmacy has two great pharmacists who are always happy to advise and talk and listen.

    Yes, I will be firm re the biosimilar. I had three years of failed meds including two biologics, a horrible allergy to one biologic and severe joint damage and immobility before I started Rituximab in 2014 so I think I've a good reason for not being swapped to the biosimilar. I plummet so badly when unprotected and I get joint damage quickly in a few weeks. I can't take that risk of not being able to move again for ages and being put on oral steroids again. The Registrar who did my knee injection a couple of weeks ago supports me with this so that's good.

    Just a thought .. I've been bitten about 20 times this summer and they are bites as I've been doing regular pruning and trimming and been out a lot in short sleeved tee shirts and shorts/cropped trousers. I don't react well to bites and they driven me mad. Anthisan and Savlon didn't do anything but I've just bought some aqueous calamine cream which has relieved the itching and redness. Wonder if this could help you? Hope your skin calms down soon.

  • Thanks. I hope your medics continue to listen and support you and that you respond to the infusions.

    I'll try the cream.

    Take care x

  • You too. Thank you. X

  • You can develop an allergy for lots of reasons including drugs, but viruses and bacteria can trigger allergies, too. Do you remember being unwell with a virus or some sort of infection around the time of the developing 'bites', now diagnosed as allergy responses?

  • Good thought, been thinking about It, but no. Not that I can think of. Strep gives me a lovely rash generally!

    Im still racking my brains. Thanks for the reply. 😊

  • Probably the medications, then. I am allergic to all drugs after bad reactions to drugs.

  • like you, I'm going through the same thing. It began with itching on my face and then forearms, but no rash. I Saw doctor and rheumatologist about this, both of whom suggested I take antihistamine tabs. I did with no results. Few weeks later, both of my forearms are now covered with what I thought were " bites" although puzzled as to where I got them from.

    The only thing that seems to ease the itching for me is, applying ice to the area, or dabbing it with T tree oil. I haven't seen the doctor since developing the "bites" but I think I will now since you have similar symptoms. I am on similar drugs to you, except for the hydroxychloroquine. I take lefludemide instead.

    I've been on my tabs, quite a few years also.

    Best wishe.

  • Interesting.

    I have cats so originally just thought it was them or just having bedroom windows open with warmer weather. But it got worse and worse and went on and on.

    They're mostly on my forearms and sometimes fingers. I've woken up with two on my little finger today and a cluster of 3 or 4 on my forearm .

    They seem to come on in the night which might point to aza because i take it in the evening with my dinner... but i also take hydroxy and amitriptyline then too!!! 🤔

    They are seriously itchy - Unbearably so! And the more you itch the more they seem to spread!

    Yesterday was a good day without so many, today they're back. What did i do yesterday that could have prompted them???

    I hope you get to the bottom of yours, if you do, please let me know!!! 😊

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