Macrolides are characterised by their basic structure which is made up of a lactonic cycle with 2 osidic chains. They are classified according to the number of carbon atoms in the cycle : 14 membered macrolides (erythromicin, roxithromycin, dirithromycin, clarithromycin … ), 15 membered (azithromycin) and 16 membered (spiramycin, josamycin, midecamycin … ) macrolides. Epidemiological studies show that macrolides are amongst the safest antibiotics, but in these series, no drug allergy work up was performed. An immediate IgE dependent hypersensitivity has been shown with erythromycin in some cases. The mechanism is unknown and the skin tests are negative in most other cases. It would appear that the macrolide allergies are unlikely to be class allergies. Eviction is the treatment of choice. Desensitization has been successful in a few cases.
Keywords: Allergy, diagnosis, drug allergy macrolides