Are you having a runny nose, itchy eyes, swollen face, and breathlessness? Welcome to the world of allergy.
Allergic reactions are a common concern for people. You would be amazed to know over 50 million people in the United States have different types of allergy, as reported by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).
You may have an allergic reaction after inhaling, eating, or touching an allergen – substances that cause an allergic reaction. Allergy testing is a procedure where the health care provider determines which substances responsibly instigate allergic reactions in you.
Skin testing is the most common allergy test. The doctor typically puts a tiny bit of an allergen on the skin, usually the forearm or back. In this article, we will take you on the trip: what is skin allergy testing and how it works.
What Is Skin Allergy Testing and How It works?
Allergies are common, and “every season can be allergy season, depending on what you’re allergic to.” Therefore, to avoid an allergic reaction, first, you need to know what you’re allergic to. Skin testing is one of the ways to determine what causes your symptoms.
During skin allergy testing, doctors prick the outer layer of skin or make a small scratch on the skin and put tiny allergens on your skin. The test usually uses extracts of common allergens: pollen, mold, dust mites, animal skin or hair, and foods like peanuts, eggs, wheat, shellfish, and milk. When doctors put these substances on your skin, they can trigger a rash, itchy, or irritated skin reaction. These reactions help the doctors determine what you’re allergic to.
Your doctor may perform the test multiple times with different allergens. It may feel a little uncomfortable but not at all painful. The test is usually safe, not resulting in any severe reactions. However, you must always do skin testing under the doctor’s supervision, where the doctor is ready to handle a reaction.
An excellent place to take skin allergy testing near me- are you asking this question to yourself? Your answer is MyConcierge MD – a reliable clinic with expert doctors and technicians who can provide you the optimum service with an accurate result.
Types Of Skin Allergy Testing
There are three main ways to perform skin allergy testing, to put allergens to react with your skin.
Skin Prick Or Scratch Test
A skin prick test, aka scratch or puncture test, evaluates the immediate allergic reactions to 10 to 50 different potential substances at once.
The doctor or nurse cleans the inspection area with alcohol during the procedure and draws a small mark on the site. Then they will place a drop of a potential allergen on each of the sites. Now, they will let the allergen come in contact with your skin by scratching the outer layer of your skin with a lancet or needle.
Doctors also insert two additional substances into your skin’s surface to monitor your normal allergic reaction. These are histamine and glycerin or saline. Histamine causes a skin response in most people. If you don’t react to histamine, your skin allergy test may not report an allergy.
On the other hand, glycerine or saline don’t cause any reaction. Therefore, if you respond to these substances, it shows you may have sensitive skin. Your reactions to the inserted allergens usually occur within 15 minutes of exposure. If you are allergic to any substances, your skin will develop a rash or a raised, red, itchy bumps called wheals.
The health care provider measures the red spot’s size and records the result. Finally, with alcohol, they clean your skin to remove all the marks. Skin prick test is not painful and doesn’t cause bleeding, as the doctor doesn’t puncture or cut your skin’s surface. In adults, the test is performed on the forearm and the upper back in children.
Skin Injection Or Intradermal Allergy Testing
If your skin prick test result comes negative or uncertain, your doctor may perform an intradermal skin test. Your health care provider injects a tiny portion of allergens into the outer layer of your skin. The provider examines the injection site for an allergic reaction of about 15 minutes. The intradermal test is usually performed to check allergies to airborne irritants, medications, and insect venom.
Patch test usually detects the delayed allergic reactions (skin inflammation or contact dermatitis) that demand several days to develop. The provider puts an allergen on a patch during the test and places it on your arm or back. Usually, doctors place patches of 20 to 30 extracts of substance that may cause contact dermatitis.
Doctors may use latex, preservatives, medications, fragrances, hair dyes, metals, or resins during the test. Patch test usually takes more time than prick or injection test and two visits to your doctor. You need to wear the patches on your arm for almost 48 hours, forbidding you from bathing or sweating from heavy activities.
Why Are The Tests Done?
An allergy test helps your doctor to determine the allergic condition that is bothering you. Allergy skin tests generally help diagnose allergic diseases that include-
- Hay fever
- Allergic asthma
- Dermatitis or eczema
- Food allergies
- Penicillin allergy
- Bee venom allergy
People with asthma also require allergy tests to identify the triggering substances that can worsen or initiate your asthma. In addition, if you have anaphylaxis – a life-threatening issue causing hives, swelling, breathing difficulty, or a sharp drop of blood pressure- you may need allergy tests to determine the cause of the reaction.
How Does Skin Allergy Testing Work?
Skin allergy tests usually examine the response of your body to particular allergens. If you have an allergy, your immune system overreacts to that allergen. It produces antibodies- immunoglobulin E, aka IgE that releases chemicals causing an allergic reaction. Skin allergy testing is reliable for diagnosing food allergies and airborne allergies like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, etc. However, you may need additional tests if your food allergy is complex and severe.
Preparation Before Skin Testing
Before a skin test is performed, your doctor will record your detailed medical history, signs and symptoms, medications, and lifestyle. Your doctor may also perform a physical examination before suggesting any test.
Some medications- several antihistamines, antidepressants, certain heartburn medicines, and asthma medication omalizumab- can subdue allergic reactions, hindering skin testing from providing accurate results. In contrast, others may increase your risk of developing a severe allergic reaction. Therefore, provide your doctor a list of all of your medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Your doctor may suggest you stop taking a particular medication for ten before the test. However, if you can’t stop, he may do a separate test where the medicine will not hamper the results.
Results Of An Skin Allergy Test
Skin prick test and intradermal test take less than an hour to know the result. However, a patch test needs several days to see the result. Your allergy test result may be positive or negative, depending on your reaction to allergens.
If you do not respond to the allergen or your skin doesn’t change, your result is negative. This means you aren’t allergic to the substance. It’s rare to get a false negative skin allergy test result- you have an allergy, but your result shows you are not allergic.
A positive result indicates you reacted to a substance or allergen. In a positive skin test result, your provider will observe a red, raised wheal. More prominent and larger wheels indicate a greater degree of sensitivity.
However, remember that skin tests aren’t always accurate. They sometimes indicate a false-positive result – showing an allergy when there isn’t one. You may react positively to a substance during a test but not respond to it in everyday life.
For this reason, your health care provider examines both your test results and your history to determine your allergy condition. However, suppose your skin allergy testing result is unclear. In that case, your provider may suggest you a blood test or challenging test- ingesting a small portion of potential allergens.
What Happens If Your Test Is Positive?
If you have an allergy, your doctor may suggest several pieces of advice to treat and control your condition. Firstly, avoid or limit contact with your allergens. Your provider may prescribe medications, immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Most importantly, your doctor may suggest changes to your work or home environment or dietary changes.
A little discomforting, the skin allergy testing is usually safe. The usual side effects are swollen, red, itchy bumps that typically disappear after the test. In rare cases, they may last for two or three days. Rarely does your whole body react to a skin allergy test? Inform your doctor if you notice the symptoms like-
- Difficulty breathing
- A spreading rash
- Swelling face, lips, or mouth
Allergy is a common concern for most people. The reactions can be bothering, irritating, and sometimes life-threatening. However, you can determine the allergen and treat and control your signs and symptoms with skin allergy testing.
However, what is skin allergy testing, and how does it work? Your answer is Dr. David Nazarian at My Concierge MD.
At My Concierge MD, you will find all your answers and the expert doctor to perform your test accurately. Schedule an appointment today to get the best procedure, advice, and treatment plan from Dr. Nazarian to live your life livelily.