Allergic reaction is a sensitivity to a specific substance, called an allergen, that is contacted through the skin, inhaled into the lungs, swallowed or injected. The body's reaction to an allergen can be mild, such as a localized rash, or life-threatening, such as anaphylactic shock.
Review Date 3/14/2016
Updated by: Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.