Emily (emiliglia) wrote in little_details,

Allergic reaction to sulfa powder in WWII

After many extensive and useless internet searches, I was hoping you guys could help.

I have a WWII American army ranger in his mid-20s getting shot in the Ardennes. The wound isn't bad, a through and through, and it's treated with sulfa, wrapped, and then pretty much ignored until he can get to a field hospital. Going immediately to the field hospital would put him in the open and it's not severe enough that he can't tough it out for a bit, hence no immediate evacuation.

Now I want said character to be allergic to sulfa powder, which I know was pretty common, or at least more men were allergic to sulfa than the then-fairly-new penicillin.

1. How quickly will the allergic reaction occur and how severe? Does it depend on where it is?
2. Does the fact that the sulfa was put on an open wound instead of just intact skin affect the reaction? Does it create further complications?
3. How was anaphylaxis treated in WW2?

Thank you!

ETA: I just found the site for the WW2 US Medical Research Centre, which actually says:

End of July 1944, the First US Army Surgeon recommended abandonment of the practice of sprinkling Sulfa powder on open fresh wounds as an anti-infection precaution; combined with the taking of Sulfa pills, this treatment resulted in excessive doses, and made wounds generally dirtier without reaching the deepest portions most in need of prophylaxis!

So...it looks like I'm going to have to find a different way to cause a complication. I was thinking an allergy to the metal of the shell casing, but then he would've noticed earlier. Hmm. I guess I could make the injury a little more severe and then have him allergic to the plasma that they'd give to prevent shock.
Tags: 1940-1949, ~medicine: allergic reactions, ~medicine: historical, ~world war ii

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