Showering and anaphylaxis

Shower flowing water

When experiencing a severe allergic reaction and skin symptoms are involved, people are often tempted to get in the shower to help with the itching and burning. If someone takes a shower during an anaphylaxis this can cause or contribute to a drop in blood pressure and worsening of the anaphylaxis.

Warm showers expand the veins and arteries, which can cause them to leak fluid into the tissue around them (causing swelling). This then contributes to a drop in blood pressure. Standing can cause a further drop in blood pressure. In addition, bathroom floors are usually hard, so there is a risk of injury if the person collapses.

If someone is experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, the first thing to do is to follow the instructions on the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis and give the adrenaline injector. Continue to follow instructions on the ASCIA Action Plan and if the skin is itchy or burning use a cool damp wash cloth to help cool the skin while you wait for an ambulance.

Under no circumstances should a person having anaphylaxis take a shower, even if they feel very hot.

They should not have anything to eat or drink until they are assessed in hospital, but medicine such as antihistamine can be taken with a small sip of water if needed.

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