Allergy skin testing is an effective way to determine the cause of your allergies. It must be conducted by a medical professional and will give relatively immediate results on whether you are allergic to something or not.
What is Allergy Skin Testing?
Allergy skin testing is a test that a special medical professional, like an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or an Allergist, performs to determine the cause of your allergies. This test can check for allergies caused by food, insect stings, pet dander, and even latex.
In general, when someone with sensitivity is exposed to one of these allergens, their bodies produce antibodies that can cause sneezing, rashes, watery eyes, and a sore throat. In extreme cases, a person may go into anaphylaxis, which can be fatal if not treated immediately.
There are two types of allergy tests your doctor can administer: a scratch test or an intradermal test. With a scratch test, the doctor will take a tiny piece of a possible allergen and scratch it into your skin. The intradermal test involves using a small, thin needle and injecting a diluted version of an allergen, like penicillin, just below the surface of the skin.
Once the allergen has been introduced to the skin via either method, the patient is observed for about 15 minutes to see if a reaction occurs. If the area where the allergen was tested forms a wheal, a red, raised bump that can frequently itch, this means that the patient has the allergy antibody. The larger the flare, the greater the sensitivity the person has to the allergen.
Depending on the method used and how many allergens are being tested, the allergy skin test may take up to two hours. The results are typically available in less than 30 minutes, as you are tested for different types of allergies all at the same time.
Benefits of Allergy Skin Testing
The first benefit of an allergy skin test is knowledge on what specific allergens you may react to. Understanding what you are allergic is essential, especially if the allergy is severe enough to require immediate medical treatment. Perhaps you thought you were allergic to dogs, but it turns out you’re not – it was actually the pollen outside making you sneeze. Essentially, it gives you insight into what you should avoid and be conscious around in your day-to-day life.
Secondly, it allows your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your specific allergies. The two main types of treatment are immunotherapy or prescription medication. Patients who are eligible for immunotherapy are slowly exposed to the allergen in safe dosages so that their bodies can build up a natural resistance and eliminate the need for medication. The other option is to take prescription medication to treat the symptoms of your allergies and reduce the severity of the reaction.
Once you have taken an allergy skin test, you have the knowledge to take control of your environment and implement measures that will help improve your overall health and quality of life.