Skip to main content

Hypersensitivity to antihistamines

Buy Article:

$39.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Antihistamines are the cornerstone of allergy therapy and are not expected to cause hypersensitivity reactions. We describe two cases, one had urticaria to multiple anti‐H1-preparations and the other had anaphylaxis to hydroxyzine. We also provide a review of the English literature on reported reactions regarding causative preparations and manifestations. The latter showed a wide range; most commonly urticaria/angioedema, contact dermatitis, anaphylaxis, and fixed drug eruption (FDE). Most reported cases were young to middle age adults, with apparent predilection to female subjects. The onset of reactions varied from a few minutes for anaphylaxis and urticaria/angioedema, several hours for maculopapular rashes, or longer for contact dermatitis and FDE. Almost all antihistamines have been reported as causing reactions; cetirizine was the most common oral preparation followed by its parent drug, hydroxyzine. Doxepin cream was the most commonly implicated topical preparation in causing contact dermatitis. A causal relationship is often difficult to recognize because the reaction may be similar to the disease being treated with that antihistamine preparation. Reactions to one preparation are likely to occur, but not always, to other members of the same class. Diagnosis is based on clinical suspicion and may be verified by challenge testing. Except for patch testing in contact dermatitis or fixed eruption, other tests have not shown optimal reliability. In most cases, challenge testing with multiple preparations would identify one or more preparations that can be tolerated. Although hypersensitivity to antihistamines seems to be very rare, awareness of the problem would reduce its misdiagnosis.

Keywords: Anaphylaxis; angioedema; antihistamine allergy; antihistamines; contact dermatitis; drug adverse reactions; drug allergy; drug rash; fixed drug eruption; urticaria

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Allergy/Immunology Section, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA

Publication date: 2013-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Reprint Requests
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more