HomeAnswersAllergy SpecialistpenicillinDo I need to test for past Penicillin allergies after 20 years?

Is it typical to get serum sickness again, even when there is no Penicillin allergy?


The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At April 30, 2023
Reviewed AtOctober 10, 2023

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

About 20 years ago, Penicillin caused serum sickness in me. My symptoms included a high temperature, chills, rash, and arthritis. Is it worthwhile to undergo Penicillin allergy testing today to determine whether I could still have the allergy I had 20 years ago? Kindly help.


Welcome to icliniq.com.

For a variety of uses, Penicillin, and related chemicals are still often employed as antibiotics. Although the ones now being used are unlikely to cause any serious allergies, it will still be beneficial to learn. You can still test for a Penicillin allergy. Doing that will be beneficial.

I hope this helps.

Thank you and take care.

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

My main concern, if provided Penicillin skin test does reveal that I do not have an allergy. Is it typical to have serum sickness once more? Is a second test worthwhile? What are the possibilities that I will still get serum sickness from Penicillin 20 years from now? Kindly help.


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

I read your query and can understand your concern.

Allergy skin prick tests need not rule out Penicillin serum sickness or serum sickness-like reactions. This is because skin tests are generally good at detecting IgE-mediated (immunoglobulin E) histaminergic allergic reactions rather than complex reactions like serum sickness. Even food allergies are not diagnosed by skin prick allergy tests. Your chances of having serum sickness to Penicillin are still the same as they were 20 years back, but that reaction now, the second time, may be more severe than last time. Considering the above two points, I would suggest against taking Penicillin this time, if that can be done. Otherwise, we may have to anticipate the reaction and be prepared.

I hope this helps.

Thank you and take care.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Shyam Kalyan. N
Dr. Shyam Kalyan. N

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)

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