How Do I Treat a Lisinopril Rash?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters
Side effects of lisinopril may include headache.
Side effects of lisinopril may include headache.

Lisinopril is a type of medication that is used to treat various types of circulatory problems, such as high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. This drug is one of a group of drugs referred to as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Some of the side effects commonly seen with lisinopril include headache, tiredness and a persistent cough. A much less common side effect of this medication is a rash, which can usually be treated symptomatically with topical creams and antihistamines to reduce itching.

Lisinopril may be used to treat high blood pressure.
Lisinopril may be used to treat high blood pressure.

If the onset of the lisinopril rash is sudden and severe, it may be a symptom of an allergic reaction to the drug. Other symptoms indicating this type of reaction include swelling of lips, face or throat, and trouble breathing. Reactions such as these can be life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency. Such problems are very rare, but if a rash is related to a serious allergic reaction it must be treated by a medical professional immediately.

Lisinopril rashes should not be exposed to direct sunlight.
Lisinopril rashes should not be exposed to direct sunlight.

Some relief from a lisinopril rash is often given by the application of topical creams and ointments containing hydrocortisone. These are usually widely available, and are generally inexpensive. Such creams will help to control any itch and inflammation that occurs as part of the rash. They should be applied as per the label instructions and used until the rash subsides.

When a lisinopril rash is present, washing should only be done with a mild soap.
When a lisinopril rash is present, washing should only be done with a mild soap.

It is best to avoid exposing a lisinopril rash to strong sunlight, as ultraviolet (UV) rays can act as an irritant and may cause the rash to get worse. Keep the rash covered when going outside to protect it from the sun. Avoid scratching the affected area, as a lisinopril rash could become infected if the skin is damaged by too much scratching. If it is difficult to stop scratching, keeping the fingernails cut very short can help minimize the damage done to the skin.

Hydrocortisone can be used to treat a lisinopril rash.
Hydrocortisone can be used to treat a lisinopril rash.

When washing, only mild soap should be used when a lisinopril rash is present. Harsh soaps may dry the skin and cause the rash to become increasingly itchy with dry, flaking skin. A bath with oatmeal in it may help to soothe the more troublesome aspects of the rash. If it continues to be bothersome, spreads or shows signs of becoming inflamed or infected, the only treatment for it may be to stop taking lisinopril. Once the medication is stopped, the rash will generally begin to shrink and will usually disappear within a few weeks.

How Long Does Lisinopril Rash Last?

A lisinopril rash can last well beyond the time that it is no longer being taken. This is due to the time it takes for the drug to leave the system. 

Once lisinopril use has been discontinued, it can take up to 12 hours for half of the drug to leave the system. That means half of the drug still remains. The remaining half will take longer to leave the system and could take as long as 2 to 3 days. 

Lisinporil may cause a persistent cough in addition to a rash.
Lisinporil may cause a persistent cough in addition to a rash.

When lisinopril is out of the system the rash will still likely be present, but there is no need to feel alarmed. The skin needs time to heal on the cellular level. Improvement should be seen within 5 to 10 days, but it could take several weeks for the rash to disappear entirely. 

A doctor may prescribe creams or ointments to help the rash heal more quickly. For more severe rashes, an injection of epinephrine or a corticosteroid may be necessary to prevent further complications. 

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

The rash that was caused by the reaction to lisinopril may have been a case of allergic contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis usually occurs between 48 and 72 hours after exposure to an irritant, which in this case would be lisinopril.

It can cause severe urges to scratch which can make cause breakage to the skin and make the rash even more severe. The skin may swell, blister, or ooze. Breaks in the skin are at risk of further infection from exposure to germs. 

In order to prevent further damage from scratching the itch must be relieved. This can be accomplished with the help of prescribed treatments purchased over-the-counter, through the pharmacy, or at home. 

Creams That Decrease Symptoms

Oatmeal soap relieves itching and inflammation.
Oatmeal soap relieves itching and inflammation.

Once a physician has determined that the rash is a result of a drug reaction, the physician may direct the patient to apply an over-the-counter treatment to the affected area or try a prescribed treatment that is ingested. Treatments that the doctor may prescribe include

  • Anti-itch creams containing corticosteroid or hydrocortisone
  • Oral antihistamine
  • Oral steroids such as prednisone
  • In severe cases, immunosuppressive medication

Any treatment consisting of corticosteroid or hydrocortisone is not intended to be a long-term solution. Always follow the advice of your doctor, but generally, these types of treatments are meant to last no more than a couple of weeks. 

Your doctor may prefer a topical treatment in order to avoid further side effects that can occur when oral steroids and antihistamines are prescribed. 

At-Home Remedies

Always consult with a physician before trying an at-home remedy. Some remedies you could try include

  • keeping your hands busy
  • applying an ice pack to the itchy area
  • applying colloidal (ground) oats
  • moisturizer or lotion
  • honey (While it may not stop the itch it does have antiseptic properties)

In addition to these treatments, regularly taking lukewarm baths in uncooked oatmeal and baking soda can also bring relief. 

Following the doctor's prescribed treatment will result in relief from the reaction. Always contact the doctor if the rash looks worse following treatment or heals and returns. 

There is no cure for allergies. If you were prescribed lisinopril for high blood pressure or congestive heart failure, your doctor will have to find an alternative medication for your condition. While the reactions caused by the allergy can be treated, they can't continue being treated long-term. 

How Does Lisinopril Cause Skin Rash?

Lisinopril doesn't cause the rash. The rash is caused by the body's response to the medication. Not everyone who is prescribed lisinopril will develop a rash. In fact, developing a skin rash is an uncommon reaction to lisinopril. Only people with certain allergies to one or more of the ingredients in lisinopril will develop a rash. 

It's important to note that an allergy can come on at any time. A person could take the same medication for years before the onset of allergy to a specific ingredient. It can make it more difficult to determine the cause of an allergy when the allergen isn't newly introduced. 

Once the body detects the substance that causes the allergy, an immune reaction occurs on the surface of the skin. For the person experiencing the reaction, it might be a feeling of warmth followed later by a strong urge to itch.

Any itch on the surface of the skin is known medically as pruritus. Pruritis brought on by allergic reactions can at times feel unbearable. Itching is a natural instinct to rid the body of the offending substance.

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Discussion Comments

anon996355

A mild rash might be ok but mine is severe and has come back twice. My doctor said it was hives but after reading side effects (severe) of the medicine, I think it might be the medicine. The rash can cause a severe allergic reaction and affect your breathing.

I plan to discuss this with my doctor and get off of the medicine as fast as I can. I do not want to take bp meds any more and will look for ways to get off and stay off. I think it is also possible that meds build up in your body and become toxic and then your body reacts:

rashes, etc.

anon994519

In the last week, I resumed taking Lisinopril after a two year break. I stopped taking it before due to a horribly uncomfortable rash and dry persistent cough. My docs never suggested that it could be lisinopril and had me on extra medications to deal with the rash and cough. My blood pressure recently went back up and my doctor suggested restarting the medicine. Five days on and I have had a runny nose, sneezing, and the cough started today. I will be stopping this medicine again tomorrow and begin looking for an alternative. It is not a coincidence. My body does not like lisinopril.

anon945209

I am taking lisinopril, and have developed a rash on my lower legs and arms. Is that a side effect of lisinopril?

anon336938

I just flushed my lisinopril down the toilet today. I kept getting an itchy rash on my chin and upper lip and I couldn't figure out why until today. I did not take my lisinopril yesterday and I took it today and all of a sudden I got a rash again. I'll stick with Clonidine and Atenolol for now.

anon316857

I have taken Lisinopril for many years with no problem. Then my doctor doubled the dose and I developed a horrible rash. Hydrocortisone cream did no good, nor did prednisone. I had to use calamine lotion to reduce the itch. It started on my torso and spread. Eventually, I had it everywhere but my palms, soles and face (although it had reached my neck and ears).

There is no way I will continue with this medicine. Do not be so cavalier about putting up with the rash.

seag47

I had to stop using my favorite perfumed body wash because of my lisinopril rash. I switched to a gentle soap that wouldn't dry out my skin.

I also moisturized my skin with an unscented lotion. The rash did itch a little, but as long as I kept the area moisturized, it was bearable.

giddion

@kylee07drg – Maybe the rash goes away when your body gets used to lisinopril. For some people, the relief the medicine gives would be worth enduring the rash.

I take lisinopril to lower my blood pressure, and it is the only thing that has worked. When my first blood pressure medication stopped working, my doctor added a low dose of lisinopril on top of it, and it has been keeping my blood pressure normal for years.

I have never developed a rash from the medicine, but if I had, I believe I would have just used hydrocortisone cream and went ahead with it. It helps me out so much that I wouldn't let a little rash stop me from taking it.

kylee07drg

It's strange to me that a doctor would tell a patient to keep taking lisinopril if a rash appears. I understand that a mild rash may not pose danger, but still, it is a sign that a slight allergy is occurring, right? I wouldn't want to take anything that I was allergic to, because I have to take antihistamines every day to keep my allergies under control.

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    • Side effects of lisinopril may include headache.
      By: FMTURRINI
      Side effects of lisinopril may include headache.
    • Lisinopril may be used to treat high blood pressure.
      By: Dangubic
      Lisinopril may be used to treat high blood pressure.
    • Lisinopril rashes should not be exposed to direct sunlight.
      By: olly
      Lisinopril rashes should not be exposed to direct sunlight.
    • When a lisinopril rash is present, washing should only be done with a mild soap.
      By: Syda Productions
      When a lisinopril rash is present, washing should only be done with a mild soap.
    • Hydrocortisone can be used to treat a lisinopril rash.
      By: carroteater
      Hydrocortisone can be used to treat a lisinopril rash.
    • Lisinporil may cause a persistent cough in addition to a rash.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Lisinporil may cause a persistent cough in addition to a rash.
    • Oatmeal soap relieves itching and inflammation.
      By: Timmary
      Oatmeal soap relieves itching and inflammation.