Are You Allergic to Penicillin? Maybe Not

May 06, 2021 at 12:00 pm by steve

By Patricia Luthin, CRNP in Clinical


Did you grow up thinking you were allergic to penicillin?

You might not remember ever having an allergic reaction to penicillin, but that’s what your parents always told you. Many people who report a penicillin allergy do not have a true IgE-mediated reaction. Approximately 10 percent of all U.S. patients report having an allergic reaction to a penicillin type of antibiotic in their past. However, when evaluated, fewer than one percent of the population is truly allergic to penicillin. Approximately 80 percent of people with a true IgE-mediated penicillin allergy lose their sensitivity after 10 years.

Why does it matter?
A penicillin allergy requires the use of alternative antibiotics for infections. Often, these broad spectrum antibiotics are not as effective and have potential for more frequent and severe side effects. They are typically more expensive. This lends itself to antibiotic resistance and increase in healthcare costs. Correctly identifying if you are actually penicillin-allergic can decrease these risks by reducing unnecessary use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. This service may also be appropriate for those who need penicillin allergy testing to gain entrance into the military.

Are you unsure if you have a penicillin allergy?
Our specialized team, led by nurse practitioner Patricia Luthin, helps patients determine if they are truly allergic to penicillin in a safe and controlled setting.

Testing involves a skin test to first identify if there is a skin reaction to penicillin. If skin testing is negative, we introduce penicillin by mouth in a graded oral drug challenge to amoxicillin. This is to determine if you can tolerate the drug in its whole form. After you successfully complete the drug challenge to amoxicillin you will be issued a card that indicates you may now safely take penicillin.  

For more information about penicillin allergy testing, please visit or call 205-871-9661.

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Apr 23, 2024 at 10:42 am by kbarrettalley

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