What to Expect From Your Allergy Skin Test

What to Expect From Your Allergy Skin Test

Whether you start sneezing as soon as the first spring blooms and leaves appear or symptoms like a runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes bother you throughout the year, there’s a good chance you have allergies.

Are you tired of living with symptoms or desperate for better allergy relief than achieved with over-the-counter remedies? The first step toward effective allergy treatment is scheduling allergy testing

David Leszkowitz, DO, and his team at White Lake Family Medicine in White Lake, Michigan, specialize in diagnosing and treating allergies and have years of experience performing skin tests on children, teens, and adults.

They understand it helps to know what to expect during skin testing, especially for parents who want to prepare their children. Here, they share what happens during three allergy skin tests. 

Allergies identified with skin testing

We begin by learning about your symptoms, including when they occur and their severity. This information helps us narrow your potential allergens (the substances causing the allergy) and determine if a health problem other than allergies may cause them.

Skin testing is essential for identifying your specific allergens and personalizing your allergy treatment. We use skin tests to reveal the following allergens:

Your possible allergen determines the skin test you need. 

Types of allergy skin tests

We specialize in three allergy skin tests:

1. Skin prick test

When most people mention an allergy skin test, they mean a skin prick test. In most cases, this is the first test we perform because it produces results in about 15 minutes. This test also identifies a wide range of allergens; we can test for many allergens simultaneously.  

During a skin test, we place a tiny amount of allergen on your skin (usually the forearm). Using a plastic device, we make a little prick in your skin, allowing the allergen to seep under the surface.

The prick is easy to tolerate for most people. Our patients describe it as feeling like a slight scratch that quickly disappears. The only discomfort usually appears as itchiness, which only occurs if you’re allergic to one of the substances.

You wait in the office for 15 minutes, then we check for skin reactions. You have an itchy red bump if the substance activates an allergic reaction. You might develop other allergy symptoms if you’re highly sensitive to the allergen.

2. Contact allergy skin testing

While you inhale many allergens, others, such as poison ivy, nickel, latex, and perfumes, trigger an allergic response after direct contact with your skin. 

Contact allergens must go through your skin and reach your bloodstream before causing an allergic reaction. As a result, they don’t cause a skin response in 15 minutes and they need a different skin test. 

When testing for contact allergens, we put the suspected substances on an adhesive patch and place it on your upper back. The patch stays in place, giving the allergens time to cause a reaction. 

You return to the office in two or three days so we can check for red bumps like those that appear during a skin prick test. If you don’t have a reaction, we may replace the patch and ask you to wear it a few extra days before we check it again.

3. Intradermal skin test

An intradermal skin test is similar to a skin prick test (the reaction occurs in about 15 minutes), except we inject the allergen under your skin. You may need this test if you have a rash or inflammatory skin condition preventing a prick test.

We also recommend intradermal skin testing if your skin prick test is negative, but your symptoms indicate you have allergies. An intradermal test is often the best choice for diagnosing venom and medication allergies.

You can get relief from allergies with customized care, including skin testing and allergy shots, at White Lake Family Medicine. Don’t wait to call the office or connect online to request an appointment for an allergy evaluation.

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