Skin Testing for Penicillin Allergy: a Review of the Literature

Purpose of review: Self-reported penicillin allergies are frequently reported, though more than 95% of those are not truly allergic when challenged. These patients are more likely to receive alternative antibiotic regimens resulting in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics that may be less effective, more toxic, and/or more expensive than preferred agents. Given the significant burden on patient outcomes and the healthcare system, the ability to reconcile an allergy and broaden future antibiotic options is essential.

Recent findings: This is a narrative review describing risk stratification for penicillin skin testing, practical advice for implementation, and future directions. A summary of studies within the last 5 years is provided. The trend over the past several years has been to offer oral drug challenges to low-risk patients and skin testing to high-risk patients with a reported penicillin allergy. This review provides support for risk stratification assessment of reported penicillin allergy to optimize antibiotic use and prevent emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Waleed Alqurashi

    Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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