An allergy test is a form of testing where you are exposed to specific allergens in a controlled environment to see how your body reacts. There are a few different types of allergy tests. Your medical history and which specific allergens you are testing for will determine the type of test administered.
A skin prick allergy test is the most used form of allergy testing. It can easily identify your body’s reactions to the most common allergens including:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Food allergies
Skin prick tests are typically administered on the arm and are not painful. They have been around for over 100 years and are safe and accurate. Patients do not experience any pain while undergoing a skin prick test since the skin is not penetrated or causes bleeding–it’s like a fingernail scratch. Before your allergy skin test, the skin is thoroughly cleaned. Small marks are made on the arm to indicate where each allergen is placed. Next to each allergen, there will also be a control prick with a saline solution that will not cause a reaction and a second prick containing a histamine solution. These two additional pricks will allow the ENT to determine the severity of any allergies.
As the allergens are introduced into your skin, they may each react differently. The degree of your skin’s response is based on the “wheals” and “flairs” produced by the allergen. A wheal is the red bump on your skin, and the flair is the red area around it.
Once the skin prick test is complete, a comprehensive overview of your allergen profile is compiled to help determine the best treatment plan.
Intradermal skin testing is used when certain allergens do not show up on a skin prick test. During an intradermal test, a small needle is used to introduce a foreign substance just below the skin’s surface. While this may cause mild discomfort, it is completely safe and will accurately determine your allergies. Some allergens may require an intradermal skin test, including, for example:
- Insect venoms like wasps, hornets, or bee stings
- Penicillin and other medication-related allergies
In some cases, a blood test may be the safest option for you. Your doctor might decide a blood test is right depending on your medical history, allergy issues, and current health. Common reasons a blood test is used for allergy testing include:
Current medications react with skin testing – some medications may interfere with accurate skin testing. Under the supervision of your doctor, you may be able to stop your medication for a short period. If this is not deemed appropriate, a blood test is recommended.
Skin conditions – skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis, can make it hard to accurately use skin prick testing for allergies. ur medical history, allergy issues, and current health. Common reasons a blood test is used for allergy testing include:
Severe allergic reactions – if you have a history of severe allergic reactions, a blood test may be safer for than skin testing.
The only way to determine which type of allergy test is best for you is to schedule an appointment with Pittsburgh Sinus Centers for a consultation. I want an allergy test