Reactions to Allergy Shots


There are two types of reactions that can occur:

Local Reactions:

Local reactions are fairly common and are experienced as redness, itching/discomfort, and/or swelling at your injection site(s), and usually are no larger than a quarter or half dollar (25-50 mm). This type of reaction can occur within minutes of your allergy shot(s) or several hours after administration. These reactions can last for minutes or several hours.


If a local reaction is not bothering you, you don’t need to do anything. However, if you experience pain, itching, bothersome swelling or redness, or “warmth” at the site there are some over-the counter (non- prescription) medications that can be utilized at home. Please follow all medication package directions for dosage and administration.

Cold Packs/Compresses – can be applied to the allergy shot site(s) to help decrease swelling and “warmth.”

Hydrocortisone or Benadryl cream/ointment – can be applied to the allergy shot site(s) to help decrease redness, itching, and/or swelling.

Oral Antihistamines – can be taken your allergy shot(s) to help decrease itching, swelling, and redness. Do not double up on antihistamines if you have already taken a dose before your shots. You may take an over-the-counter antihistamine (such as Claritin, Benadryl, Zyrtec or Allegra). Please exercise caution when taking antihistamines, especially while driving or operating machinery, as some can cause drowsiness.

Tylenol/Acetaminophen – can be taken following your allergy shot(s) to help decrease pain and discomfort.

Systemic Reactions:

This type of reaction is very rare but it is possible for you to have a systemic or “life-threatening” reaction to your allergy shot. These types of reactions usually happen within the first 10 minutes of receiving a shot. This is why it is so important for you to wait in the office for 20 minutes after every shot.

Signs of a systemic reaction are: severe itching of the throat, nose, eyes, palms and/or skin; hives, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing; swelling of the tongue, lips or throat; faintness.

If you notice any of these symptoms after receiving a shot, report to the front desk or technician at once! If you are already out of the office call for medical support right away. If you have your epi-pen use it according to the directions and seek medical attention at once.


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