Medical Questions » Antibiotics Questions » Question No. 60
Question:I have been told that I am allergic to sulpha antibiotics, as I had a bad rash after taking Bactrim. With so many different antibiotic names, can you tell me which ones contain sulpha? Are they all yellow like normal sulpha?
Answer:Sulpha antibiotics do not contain raw sulphur in any form, but are built around a sulphur-containing molecule. They can be any colour, but usually white, as sulphur' s yellow colour only appears when it is in its pure form, uncombined with any other substance. Sulphas were actually the very first antibiotics developed, but the ones available in the late 1930s had severe side effects and were not very effective. Sulphas today are not as widely used as many other groups of antibiotics but still play a part in the treatment of some types of infections. The most commonly prescribed sulpha preparation is co-trimoxazole (also known as Bactrim, Septrin or Rcsprim), which has a sulpha antibiotic combined with a second type of antibiotic. Another commonly used sulpha drug is trimethoprim (Alprim, Trib or Triprim). Your best option is to always tell both doctors and pharmacists who are prescribing any medication for you that you are allergic to sulphas. Virtually all are available only on prescription, but some more old-fashioned ones are available from chemists without a prescription in skin preparations. Sulphas should be avoided in patients with liver disease and used with caution in the elderly. They are available in tablet, mixture and injection forms.
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