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Drug Eruptions

A drug rash (drug eruption), also known as a drug reaction, is a skin condition caused by a medication. A drug rash can appear in many forms, and any medication can cause a drug rash.


Drug rashes can appear on people of all ages, all races, and of both sexes. However, women are more likely than men to develop drug rashes, and they tend to occur more frequently in elderly people.

Factors that predispose an individual to developing a drug rash include:

  1. Weakened immune system due to underlying illness or medication
  2. Underlying infection
  3. Taking more than 3 medicines daily

Although any medication can cause a drug rash, the most common types of medications that trigger a drug rash include:

  • 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 agents
  • Medicines for psychiatric illnesses (psychotropic medications)
  • Diuretics
  • Iodine, especially that found in X-ray contrast dye


Drug rashes can appear as a variety of skin rashes, including pink to red bumps, hives, blisters, red patches, pus-filled bumps (pustules), or sensitivity to sunlight. Drug rashes may involve the entire skin surface, or they may be limited to one or a few body parts.

Itching is common in many drug rashes. However, if fever is present, the skin isĀ  tender, or the membranes inside the mouth or the genitalia are involved, then a more serious skin condition may be present.