A person may have a very bad reaction if they eat or touch something they are allergic to and may need your help until an ambulance arrives.

Quick help

  • Check that the person is happy for you to touch them before you give first aid. If they are unconscious and you need to check for injuries or give lifesaving first aid, then don’t delay. 
  • Help the person take their medication.
  • Start CPR if the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally.


What to look for

Swelling: Swelling around the eyes or mouth, or around the affected area if they were stung or bitten (e.g., a bee sting). 

A rash: Itchy red spots on the skin. 

Nausea or vomiting: Feel sick or being sick. 

Difficulty breathing: Struggling for air when they try to breathe or speak.

Dizziness: Feeling dizzy and faint.

Diarrhoea: An upset tummy.


Some people are very allergic to some foods (e.g., peanuts), medicine (e.g., penicillin), or venoms (e.g., bee stings), and could die if they don't get help.

Call 111 for an ambulance if the person is showing signs of a bad reaction, like not being able to breathe.


How you can help 

If the person is awake

  • Keep them still. This may slow the allergic reaction until the ambulance arrives. 
  • Help them find and use their medicine (e.g., EpiPen).  
  • If they are too unwell to do it, another person should do it for them - follow the instructions on the pack. 
  • If they are no better after 5 minutes, help them use a second EpiPen (if they have one). Follow the instructions on the EpiPen. 
  • If the allergic reaction was caused by a chemical, wash the area with lots of water. 


If the person is not responding

  • If they are breathing normally, lie them on their side. 
  • If they are not breathing normally, start CPR


If you have a person in urgent need of medical attention, call 111 now.


Take a First Aid CourseBuy a St John first aid KitBuy the St John first aid BookTXT 111