If you're frustrated by your allergy symptoms, it may be time to have allergy testing done so you know exactly what triggers you. A doctor—such as Allergy and Asthma Care of Blakeney PLLC: Steven McEldowney, MD—may start with allergy skin testing since this type of test can identify a number of allergens in a quick procedure. Here's an overview of how allergy skin testing works.
Allergy Skin Testing Is Done A Few Ways
Your doctor considers your suspected allergens and other factors to determine what type of skin test you'll have. A scratch test is common, so you might start with that and have further testing if needed. A scratch test involves applying an allergen directly to your skin after or before your skin is scratched. This test isn't painful since the scratch barely scrapes your skin, but it does break your skin so the allergen can get inside.
A doctor can test for multiple allergens with a scratch test, so it's a useful diagnostic tool. The test has to be done in your doctor's office. A reaction usually occurs within minutes if it's going to happen, and this allows the doctor to see the reaction and judge how strong it is.
A similar skin allergy test is the patch test. Since your skin isn't scratched with this test, it could take a day or two to have a reaction. The nurse places a number of patches on your skin that contain allergens, and then you go home for a couple of days. When you return to the doctor, the patches are removed and the results are observed to identify your allergy triggers.
The third type of skin test is when the nurse or doctor injects the allergen just under the surface of your skin. This test can give quick results and the test may be done to clarify the results you got with a scratch test.
Allergy Skin Testing Can Be Done On All Ages
While it's common for skin testing to be done on children, you can have this allergy test as an adult too. You might have an allergy that was never diagnosed. You could also have a new allergy that you developed later in life. A skin test is a good way to identify what you're allergic to so you can avoid the substance or undergo allergy shots.
You May Need To Avoid Medications Before Your Test
Let your doctor know about your prescription and non-prescription medications so they can advise you on the ones to stop taking before you have a skin test. For example, an over-the-counter allergy medication could interfere with the results of a skin test. Some non-allergy medications can interfere with skin testing too, so if you can't stop taking a certain medication, your doctor may need to find alternative ways to test for your allergens.