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Readers Respond: Dealing With Sulfa Drug Allergy

Responses: 275


Updated May 12, 2009

From the article: Sulfa Drug Allergy
There are numerous medications that contain sulfa molecules. Some very sensitive people have allergic reactions to many of these drugs, and so they go to great lengths to make sure that they don't take these medications accidentally. Are you one of them? Share how you've been able to deal with being allergic to sulfa drugs and avoid such reactions.

Sulfametthoxazole tmp for staph infect

prescribed by dermatologist for a staph infection. Day one upset stomach day 2 flu like symptoms day three exhaustion day four slight rash day 5 all over body rash swollen lips and throat stopped meds. ER visit to put symptoms of hives at bay. Day 6 where hives were at worst skin is peeling other areas have broken blood vessels under the skin. EVIL drug!!!
—Guest katie


I started taking Sulfamethoxazole for a boil my doctor said was probably Staff on a Saturday. That night I had a fever or 99.2 and felt sick. 2 days later on Monday I had horrible lower back pain that lasted all day Tuesday as well. I also had a on going headache and lack of appetite along with diareaha, nausea and on and off low grade fever. I slept on and off all day Wed and Thurs and just felt sick. Friday morning I woke up to painful to the touch occipital swelling behind my ears. Felt like my neck muscles were detaching from my skull! I called my Doctor and she said to stop the medication and go to the ER. At the ER I had higher that normal blood pressure but fever was normal. Doctor diagnosed me as having a "medication intolerance" and said I should put Sulfa Drufs under listed allergies from now on. He said he didn't see any rash, but if one starts, to one in immediately because of the possibility of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.
—Guest Shana


Not the first time taking the pill so I didn't think it had anything to do with the red splotchy rash all over my arms back and legs. Then the vaginal swelling and irritation started. It was horrible! I went to the OBGYN and they tested me for STDs! All my doctors told me that this was not an allergic reaction to bactrim so I continued my dose, suffering! A couple months later Doc put me on it again and within 5 mins of first pill vaginal burning began. Swelled, burned and blistered. Horrible reaction! Turns out I am also allergic to Keflex, this I have known for years, is also Sulfa Drug! Why didn't they figure it all out with my first reaction!
—Guest Lee89


Celebrex sent me to the E.R. 20 minutes after taking it, itching all over turning red and swollen and I couldnt breath! It was a really bad reaction!
—Guest carrie anti celebrex

Flea soap had sulphur in it

I bathed my dogs in flea dip. Minutes later both my hands itched terribly. I read the label. Sulphur! Same as Sulfa! I never knew. Had to wash my hands in alcohol and soap five times. Never again. Read the label, even on flea dip shampoo.
—Guest Danny

Diamox 4Glaucoma

After eyedrops failed to bring down my occular pressure, my opthamologist suggested Diamox as a last resort B4 major eye surgery (bleb). We discussed my sulfa drug allergy. He said there was only a small amount of sulfa in the pill and thought I wouldn't have a reaction. I took 1/4 of a small pill and had minor hives within a couple hours. Also, I need to watch out for medicated shampoos.
—Guest Fran

Stephen Johnson Syndrome

I was given a sulfa drug(Kidney inf) when I was pregnant w/my 1st child. My reaction was quite severe. No blisters but a bad rash where I lost all my skin from every orfice on my body. I was in the hosp for 2 1/2 months. They called me "Flaky" because of all the skin that was on the floor everyday. I had to take B-12 shots everyday to protect my baby who was born healthy. The doctors at the time diagnosed me w/Serum Hepatitis. It wasn't until years later that my family doctor ran a blood test & found out I never had any kind of hepatitis. He was the one who told me I had SJS. I also learned that SJS can lead to problems w/other organs, like your lungs. It leaves you w/ILD (Intertestial Lung Disease) which I was diagnosed w/2 yrs ago. So as of now I just need to use my oxygen as needed & hopefully it stays that way. So I always check when I am given any new meds that deal w/UTI etc. That's when I learned that Bactrim had sulfa in it...Caught in time, didn't take it....

Itchy skin

May of '10 I began having extremely itchy skin, dots looking like bug bites on shins, then elbows, arms shoulders, everywhere! tested, tested, GP, allergists, finally in 2012 dermatologist told me I was allergic to sulfa based drugs Atenolol and Triamterene HCTZ. in the meantime I had been prescribed Bactrim for infections caused by...ITCHING! I find that taking at least 5mg of Ambien will allow you to sleep. also, taking warm, NOT HOT Baths with 1/2 c. Each of baking soda and cornstarch will soothe your skin.Put on moisturizer within 3 minutes of bath or shower. I think just knowing what you are allergic to, and being able to avoid it, is powerful medicine. just to know you are not psychosomatic! to know I'm not the only person in the world who has to wear her clothes inside out is such a relief! thank you for being there!
—Guest jules

odd severe allergic reaction

I was taking Bactrim for a minor staph infection that was more in a bad place more than it was severe. Just didn't want it spreading into my eye or sinuses. I took it 2xdaily w/ no problems. I was finished w/ my dose on Thursday. Saturday evening I begin itching and thought I was having a topical reaction to something I came in contact w/ or a bug bite so I took a Benadryl. Later that night/Sunday morning the rash had spread all over my whole body. I thought it was merely a bad case of the hives and kept taking more Benadryl. The rash never subsided and only grew worse. Sunday night/Monday morning I could barely walk and was spiking a fever. The rash had formed into targets. The ER ran an IV with solumedrol, benedryl and pepcid. Sent me home with solumedrol, benadryl and tagamet. By Thursday the rash came back and my lips and eyes were extremely swollen and my sore joints began to return. Had to be on decadron IV and be on a higher dose of steroids by mouth for even longer.

Bactrim reaction

Was prescribed Bactrim for infected finger. Two days after starting it got flu like symptoms, high fever up to 104. Waited two more days to see doctor. They drew labs and r/o flu. I left and about a couple hours later, I started burning all over my face and chest. They told me STOP the Bactrim. I did. Now it's on my lips, in my ears, mouth gums burning, eyes burning...ack!!!
—Guest Soozi G

oh my

Well my experience with bactrum was agonizing. I was at first happy with my lips a little swollen. Free lip booster treatment. Then bang......tongue swelling with burning and blade cutting tearing feeling of whole mouth gums swollen. Drinking an eating oh no...burning burning ahhhh. So i called mr. Pharm. He said stop taking the drug take two benys an call ur dr. I called him. I went into his office. Given predisione and refused another antibo i feel better my brush with death gone. But my gums an tongue are still burning. 3wks later..going to my dentist 2day.. Hope u all have a good one......
—Guest in pain adams

Beware of Lasix too!

My mother told me years ago that I was allergic to sulfa drugs but didn't tell me what kind of reaction I had had. I steered clear of them for years, but then was able to tolerate Septra DS when I had a UTI in my 40's. Fast forward to now-- I'm 60 and just had a horrible reaction to Lasix! My mouth felt like I had.severely burned it a day after the first dose. Then I developed what looked like canker sores all over my tongue - underside too - and the insides of my cheeks, the soft palate and upper part of the throat. My lips turned bright red and swelled up, then started sloughing the skin off. The reaction continued to progress for 10 days. Each day there were new lesions in my mouth. I first saw a dermatologist who gave me a very small dose of prednisone, which did nothing. Then I went to my allergist who increased the prednisone to 40 mg. twice a day, plus Allegra twice a day and Benadry at bedtime. It took over a month for all the lesions to disappear. All this from ONE Lasix!
—Guest Cynthia

Allergy to Bactrim component

2nd exposure to Bactrim, not allergic to sulfa but the trimethoprim. 7 days later, hives from ankels to arms, stomach but none on hand , or face, neck, First time ankles only after 3 days. No more Bactrim for me
—Guest Sparkie58

Mouth & Tongue Reaction

I was given bactrin (I believe) for a UTI. About 2 days into it my mouth tasted very metallic-icky & very dry. Then within a day or two of that my mouth, meaning the insides of my cheeks for the most part were completely raw & my tongue looked as if I had burnt it. It took forever to heal!
—Guest Guest Sulfa PMC

Sulfa drug reaction

Not all the responses I have read are far from the one I had, just a little milder. I was prescribed a sulfa drug and NSAIDs along with seizure medication known as Tegratol. My reaction was severe, with a few doctors not recognizing it to be Steven Johnson Syndrome, which nearly took my life and finally ended with total loss of sight. I suffered a major stroke and weakness of right side. The good ending is I fought effects of the stroke with physical therapy and my sight returned in one eye. As said in their comments, if you try sulfa in small dosses it will not harm you wrong. Easy to fix the problem, don't listen. Each person is an individual, however, is it worth losing ones life over? I remained in the hospital for over 1 1/2 months and have terrible scars. To much of a price. Since,my allergy list reads as a best seller. In ending tonight I took a medication for colitis which was prescribed for me therefore revealing the mistake made by docs/pharm yet another reaction.
—Guest Angeliveson

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