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Anti-histamines during Immunotherapy
January 29, 2014 6:13 PM   Subscribe

I started allergy shots a few weeks back and now my right arm's itching like crazy. Any suggestions for anti-histamines that'll relieve itching?

The allergist gave me a pill last time and advised me to take an anti-histamine half an hour before I go in for a shot, but I just took the pill and totally forgot to note the name of the medicine or ask her for suggested anti-histamines. I stopped taking anti-histamines (ie. loratadine and a few others) years ago since they seemed to have no effect on my chronic rhinitis, so I just realized I have no more pills in my house and no idea what works best for the itching and swelling after allergy shots.

Obviously a plus if you've gone through allergy shots before. Of course, I'll ask the nurses when I go in later this week, but it's nice to hear beforehand what's worked for other people.
posted by myntu to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
When my SO started his allergy shots last week they just gave him a benadryl (diphenhydramine) Can make you a little snoozy but it's good for itching and the allergy shots people specifically gave it to him for that.
posted by jessamyn at 6:15 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


In my experience any anti-histamine will put a dent in any allergic itching reaction. I take plain old Benadryl because it doesn't make me drowsy (just lucky that way), but I'm sure Zyrtec or Claritin would be fine as well.
posted by telegraph at 6:17 PM on January 29


At my allergist's office they will give you Caladryl on your injection site if you want it, so that would be my recommendation.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:17 PM on January 29


I also get allergy shots. Because I am exposed to the things I'm allergic to daily, I take a 24-hour Allegra (I buy in bulk from Amazon) every single day and have never had more than a slight reddening of the injection site (no itching, no bump) as a reaction to my shots. Our office hands out benadryl to those who need it, but they say any antihistamine that works for you is fine. My doctor likes Zyrtec, but it doesn't do anything for me, so Allegra it is

Also, I'm very much assuming that you are telling your allergist about your reactions and they have decreased your dose as a response. IANAD, but if you're having reactions every week, I'm afraid you're not getting the appropriate dose and you're risking more serious reactions as your dose increases.
posted by Swiss Meringue Buttercream at 6:33 PM on January 29


The nurse who gave me my first shot (see jessamyn's answer above) also gave me an epi-pen. She didn't feel comfortable releasing me from the waiting room after thirty minutes without one, just in case. That said, I'm allergic to more than 95% of the things they tested me for, so I was probably a case to watch.

The locations of the shots (one under each back-of-upper-arm) itched for a couple of days afterwards, but no big deal.

I look forward to seeing how it plays out!
posted by not_on_display at 6:49 PM on January 29


When I used to go to an allergy doc, they would put ice on the injection site.

I occasionally get acute itching that will wake me up at night, ice is the only thing that works consistently.
posted by and for no one at 6:52 PM on January 29


I take Zyrtec before, and if there's a small local reaction I use Benadryl cream.
posted by bizzyb at 7:47 PM on January 29


Wow, thanks for the replies so far! I like rabbitrabbit's suggestion of Caladryl -- I overlooked topical solutions and I definitely have some at home.

In response to Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I've been telling the nurses about my reactions but they don't seem concerned since I have yet to end up with a lump larger than a dime within half an hour. They just tell me to put ice or take an anti-histamine if it's itchy.
posted by myntu at 8:01 PM on January 29


Allegra plus Zantac, both available over the counter, will shut down itching pretty well; each one blocks a certain type of histamine receptor, for double anti-itch coverage. Source: my allergist.
posted by limeonaire at 9:33 PM on January 29


I've been doing this for many years. Anecdotally, the only time they decreased my dose was when the itching was RRREEEALLY bad for several days following a shot. During my initial test, my reactions were unusually strong; my back was lit up like a theater marquee and the staff called in other staff to gape at it.

My home remedy for those bad days is water that's almost too hot to bear. It seems to "overload" my nerve endings in the itchy area. I use this for mosquito bites too. I tried ice once and found hot water to work better for me; YMMV.

Allegra plus Zantac, both available over the counter, will shut down itching pretty well; each one blocks a certain type of histamine receptor, for double anti-itch coverage. Source: my allergist.

Wait... Zantac or Zyrtec?
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 9:16 AM on January 30


Zantac, I think, is what limeonaire intended. Because it works on a different histimine receptor. Wikipedia tells me Pepcid is another drug in the same class.
posted by kathrynm at 3:45 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Yes, I did mean Zantac, not Zyrtec, for exactly the reason kathrynm mentions. You take it with the Allegra when the itching is really bad.

FYI, I don't recommend Zyrtec to anyone after my experience with it; I took it for less than a month, on my primary care doctor's initial recommendation for some mild itching, and I ended up with seemingly endless withdrawal itching afterward. I was covered in bruises from scratching by the time I got in to see a dermatologist and then an allergist. A lot of other people (see the comments) have had this experience as well.
posted by limeonaire at 6:42 PM on February 15


To update, it turns out Allegra is perfectly fine for me when it comes to the itching. It even surprised me by relieving some of my everyday sniffling. Also, shots are going great -- I'm far less itchy now despite getting higher doses, so let's hope the immunotherapy is working!
posted by myntu at 7:50 PM on February 21


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