Finding the culprit with scratches and pricks...
Allergies are an annoyance that occur when the immune system works too hard to fight off a common allergen. Often skin tests for allergies will be used to rule out the most common causes of an allergy. An allergy skin test is a simple, safe way that a medical professional can discover the allergen - hopefully, before it gets too serious. Learn what you can expect when getting this test.
What Should You Expect When Getting an Allergy Skin Test?
Preparation for the test is critical. You will need to talk to your doctor or allergist about ANY medicines that you are taking. This includes everything from prescription allergy medications to any over the counter (OTC) medications. Even someone on an aspirin regimen should discontinue its use (with doctor approval) at least 48 hours prior to the test. There may be medications that you are not able to discontinue. The doctor will do a control study before the allergy skin test to make sure that it will not react to the treatment.
There are three different ways that the test can be administered. A scratch test is performed by first marking the forearm with a pen to mark where the different allergens will be administered. A drop of allergen serum is then placed on the skin. The doctor will then prick the skin to allow the extract into the outer layer of skin. If one of the marks turns red, itches and/or swells, then you can establish the cause of the allergic reaction. An intradermal test is exactly like a TB test. A small amount of a certain allergen is injected directly underneath the skin. A third type, the patch test, is conducted by placing a patch containing the allergen either on the upper arm or lower back. This particular method of allergy skin test takes 48 hours to determine its effectiveness. The other two are completed in approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
These tests are not painful. There is a small pin prick with two of them and at worst, a minor irritation (like that of a mosquito bite) with all three, only if you react to the allergen. An allergy skin test is one of the safest procedures that you can undergo. There is very little danger of any type of severe skin reaction and after the procedure a topical cortisone cream will be applied to address any itching. There is no cause for worry while testing for allergies during a skin test. However, if you start to wheeze, feel lightheaded, or have swelling around the injection site, you will need to contact you doctor.
The fact that we can contract allergies as we age, may make it necessary to have this test at different stages in life. Make sure that you follow all of you doctors directions prior to your allergy skin test. As with any other medical procedure, your doctors advice is critical.