Immune reactions

Allergic reactions to drugs such as penicillin can occur. In this case the penicillin molecule attaches to serum protein. This compound acts as an antigen and may form a complex with IgG antibody. It is this complex which attaches to blood vessel walls to produce an inflammatory reaction. This presents as a rash developing a few days to two weeks after treatment on the skin, but if it occurs in the kidneys the resulting tissue damage can have serious consequences. This is an example of Type III allergy with antigen-antibody complexes being deposited in the small blood vessels. Sometimes a much more acute anaphylactic reaction develops A fixed drug eruption is characterised by a localised patch of erythema that flares up whenever the drug is taken. Erythema multiforme can occur in drug reactions.

Connective tissue diseases involve complex immunological processes that affect both internal organs and the skin. This means that it is particularly important to realise the significance of any associated skin changes.

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