People may be more likely to have a drug eruption if they:
- Have a weakened immune system due to illness or medication
- Have an infection
- Are taking more than 3 medicines daily
- Antibiotics such as penicillin or sulfa drugs
- Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or indomethacin
- Painkillers such as codeine or morphine
- Seizure medications (anti-convulsants) such as phenytoin or carbamazepine
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Medicines for psychiatric illnesses (psychotropic medications)
- Iodine, especially that found in X-ray contrast dye
Itching is common in many drug eruptions. However, if your child has a fever, if his or her skin is tender, or if the inside of the mouth or the genitalia are involved, a more serious skin condition may be present.
For mild or limited skin reactions, you could have your child:
- Take cool showers or apply cool compresses.
- Apply calamine lotion.
- Take an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine.
Prepare a list for the doctor of all of your child's medications, including prescription and over-the-counter pills or syrups as well as topical creams, vitamins, and herbal or homeopathic remedies. Be sure to include medicines that your child may take only on occasion. If possible, try to document when your child started taking each medication. Also make certain that you know about any previous reactions your child might have had to medicines or food.
- Numbing the skin with an injectable anesthetic.
- Sampling a small piece of skin by using a flexible razor blade, a scalpel, or a tiny cookie cutter (called a "punch biopsy"). If a punch biopsy is taken, a stitch (suture) or two may be placed and will need to be removed 6–14 days later.
- Having the skin sample examined under the microscope by a specially trained physician (dermatopathologist).
The best treatment for a drug eruption is to stop the medication that is causing it. After your child stops taking a medicine, it may take 5–10 days to see an improvement in the skin and up to 3 weeks for the rash to go away completely.
Note: Do not have your child stop taking a prescription medication until the doctor advises you to do so.
Other treatments that may be helpful include:
- Oral antihistamine pills or syrups such as diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine, loratadine, cetirizine, fexofenadine, or desloratadine for itching
- Topical corticosteroid (cortisone) creams or lotions for red, inflamed skin
- Topical antibiotic ointments for open sores