Did wellbutrin give you hives?
July 17, 2006 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Hello fellow depressed meFites! For those of you who have taken wellbutrin, did you ever have itchiness or hives as a side effect? Did it go away after a while or did you have to go off of the drug completely?

I have what MAY be a hive on my arm. It's either that or a bug bite (seriously, it's just one hive/bite and it's only been a few days, so its possible that I'm just being paranoid). I know that everyone reacts differently to drugs, but I just thought I'd see if anyone out there had hives/itchiness that went away after a while (like some side effects do) on the drug, or if you had a persistent allergy to the drug and had to stop taking it completely (which would make me sad because i have high hopes for it). Thanks!
posted by echo0720 to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
My husband takes Wellbutrin and never had this side effect. However, are you taking it for just depression or depression and anxiety? I ask because I get hives when my anxiety gets out of control. I hope everything works out for you. Good luck!
posted by sugarfish at 6:20 PM on July 17, 2006

Nope, never had this side effect. Just the inability to sleep at all for the first couple of weeks on wellbutrin. Ended up working wonders for me - good luck and hope you stop itching!
posted by meerkatty at 6:32 PM on July 17, 2006

Hives is a body-wide event when it's a reaction to a drug. I've had that reaction twice to drugs (not Wellbutrin) and both times I looked like I had measles. It's a rash pretty much on every part of your skin everywhere on your body.

Hives (real hives) is also a major danger sign, and you should stop taking the drug immediately. You should also memorize the drug name, and tell every doctor and emergency person in future that you're allergic to it, because if you ever get dosed with it again you can suffer from anaphylactic shock, which can kill you.

A single sore in one place is not hives. Probably you're right that it's an insect bite. I seriously doubt it has anything whatever to do with the drug.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:32 PM on July 17, 2006

Did the hive/bite occur immediately after you started taking the Wellbutrin or had you been taking it for a while already before the hive/bite appeared?

Hives can be a very common manifestation of a drug allergy, but they usually appear right after the user begins to take the drug. If you've been taking the drug for months and just now got a single hive, the two are probably unconnected. If the hive appeared shortly after you started taking the med (like, within taking one or two doses), stop taking the medication and call your doctor. Ditto if you wake up tomorrow with a bunch more.

If you ever experience any signs of an anaphylactic allergic reaction (such as trouble breathing, swollen hands and face, weakness, or fainting), call an ambulance immediately.
posted by jesourie at 6:41 PM on July 17, 2006

In my case it took about 7 days for the rash to appear.

Jesourie is right: if you have a problem breathing, sort of like an asthma attack, you need an ambulance. They need to give you a shot of epinephrine as soon as they possibly can.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:53 PM on July 17, 2006

I recently started taking Wellbutrin (3 weeks ago) and have not had any sort of itchiness, other than my normal sensitive skin, the only side effect has been a little trouble sleeping.

Wellbutrin may exacerbate anxiety, so if like sugarfish suggested, you get hives when you get very anxious, there could possibly be a connection there...but it seems unlikely. If it persists, gets worse, or you have any symptoms of a serious allergy, though, go back to your doctor asap.
posted by tastybrains at 7:02 PM on July 17, 2006

nope, never had this side effect.
posted by escher at 7:08 PM on July 17, 2006

I take Wellbutrin, and I have never had that side effect.

I have also had allergic reactions to medication. When that happens, it's right after the first dose, and it's an immediate reaction. It doesn't come on gradually, and it tends to be serious enough to where you can't ignore it. Like, 'I'm immediately on the phone to the doctor on call while taking Albuterol and Benedryl' serious, not 'let's see what MetaFilter says about this?' serious. (Not to belittle your concern, you should definitely talk to your doctor about it. But I don't think you're having an acute allergic reaction.)
posted by spinifex23 at 7:12 PM on July 17, 2006

Tried it once and had the absolutely worst sleep of my life. If I recall correctly, on different nights I:

1. simply couldn't fall asleep
2. fell asleep but awoke w/extreme nausea
3. fell asleep but had horrifying nightmares

Good luck.
posted by pallen123 at 7:19 PM on July 17, 2006

I had all sorts of horrible side effects from Wellbutrin (couldn't sleep, shaky, seizure), but I don't ever remember itching.

Um, and I should have seen my doctor right away when I had such severe side effects, going on for a couple of weeks. I know now that it wasn't normal (it was the first antidepressant I went on, and my doctor was in another state). It might be a good idea just to call your doctor to check in.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 7:28 PM on July 17, 2006

I've been taking Wellbutrin for over 10 years now and have never experienced anything beyond some occasional dry-mouth. And I'm taking upper-limit dosages.

Anyway, if you've only had the "hive" for a couple of days, relax. It probably is just a bug/spider bite. I've noticed that the spiders, especially, are out of control this year.

If it's a week or so later and it's still there or spreading, then get to the doc. Until then...relax.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:34 PM on July 17, 2006

I've been taking it for about 6 months, and the only side effect I've felt was an upset stomach.
posted by lain at 7:46 PM on July 17, 2006

If you have the slightest difficulty breathing you should call 911
posted by 517 at 8:42 PM on July 17, 2006

I know of several people who developed hives with Wellbutrin. Definitely worth checking out, as that can be a precursor to more serious reactions such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.
posted by judith at 9:03 PM on July 17, 2006

Wellbutrin never caused this for me. The adhesive in nicotine patches, however, did.
posted by orthogonality at 9:15 PM on July 17, 2006

I took it for three months to try to quit smoking. (Worked for five months, then I was back on the fags.)

I didn't have itching, but it did make me feel like the top of my head was about to pop off.
posted by trip and a half at 11:11 PM on July 17, 2006

I should also note that I took the Wellbutrin under the brand name Zyban, for smoking cessation -- thus the reference to the nicotine patches. For that purpose, Zyban/Wellbutrin definitely takes the edge off the cravings, although it doesn't entirely stop the cravings and edginess. It also makes having a smoke a lot less pleasant; on the Zyban, I soon began to notice that the cigarette doesn't taste good, etc.

If you're not taking it for smoking cessation, your mileage may vary; once I got the smoking under control, the Zyban/Wellbutrin didn't seem to have any noticeable effect.
posted by orthogonality at 12:22 AM on July 18, 2006

Never had this symptom, and was on it for quite some time (the sleeping issues are super-common)

but like what everyone else says: get the hives checked out!!!
posted by cloudscratcher at 12:39 AM on July 18, 2006

If you had hives, you'd seriously know it. There is never just one. So it probably isn't an allergic reaction.

However, that isn't to say that the Wellbutrin isn't making you feel more physically sensitive. If you have the least bit of an anxiety problem, it can make you react quite strongly to Wellbutrin. It made me hostile and aggressive. So I stick with the Prozac.

About allergies to drugs, it is important to note that a serious reaction is not always immediate. In two cases where I have taken completely new medications, it took days for the allergy to develop. One can become allergic to a substance that one has previously tolerated.
posted by monopas at 12:46 AM on July 18, 2006

Response by poster: First -- thank you all, I'm not contacting my doctor yet because when I looked at it this morning it wasn't as red or swollen as last night when I asked the question -- but I promise that if it doesn't go away or gets worse or spreads, I will definitely call my doctor. Someone asked if it had appeared before or after I took the drug for the first time, I just can't remember, which is why I was freaking out.
posted by echo0720 at 7:08 AM on July 18, 2006

I tried welbutrin and had serious itchiness and skin crawlies, don't remember how long it took to develop. Looked up side effects, and this was listed. Stopped it immediately, and the skin crawling went away in a few days.
posted by theora55 at 7:51 AM on July 18, 2006

I had this reaction to wellbutrin, too. Stopping the drug made it go away.
posted by atom128 at 2:41 PM on July 18, 2006

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