Allergy testing is used to determine the specific allergens that an individual may be sensitive to. The symptoms that individuals are most familiar with are sneezing, itchiness, and watery eyes. There are many other symptoms which individuals may not be as familiar with such as:
Dark circles under the eyes
Dermatitis or Eczema
The allergy test can be done by obtaining blood tests or having a skin test. Both tests can be done for people of all ages. The skin test offered consists of two parts. The first part of the allergy test helps identify airborne allergens such as trees, grasses, weeds, molds, and pet dander. The test also identifies common food allergens such as milk, eggs, peanuts, and different types of meat.
Prior to the test please notify the office if you are taking any medication such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and some heartburn medications. There are some medications that may produce a false negative result.
Types of Allergy Tests
Skin Prick Test
The skin prick test is completed by having a small amount of allergen introduced in the skin of the forearm by a small prick (percutaneous). In small children the test may be done on the back. The results of the test will be evident within minutes of the initial prick. A positive result will look similar to a small mosquito bite with mild itchiness.
The second part of the allergy test consists of both a skin prick test and an intradermal test (intracutaneous). It is completed by introducing a small amount of allergen underneath the skin. A positive result will have mild itchiness as well as a slightly larger wheal than the initial wheal created. During the second part of the allergy test, a second skin prick test will be completed. The second skin prick test will determine any food allergies to allergens such as seafood and different types of fruit.
If a skin test and intradermal testing cannot be completed in the office, a blood test called in vitro allergen-specific IgE antibody test will be ordered. The test is not done as often because it tends to be less sensitive and is more expensive to patients. In vitro testing is not done on premises. Patients are referred to a laboratory and results are typically available within three days.
Side Effects / Risks
The most common side effect of skin testing is slightly swollen, red bumps, and hives. These side effects should go away within a few hours, but may last up to a couple of days.
In rare occasions, the skin test can produce a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Emergency medicine is kept in the office in those circumstances.
What to expect
The allergy skin test is not painful. The needles used in the test will slightly penetrate your skin’s surface, but should not cause any bleeding. There should be only a slight momentary discomfort when the allergen is applied.
The results of the skin test and intradermal test will be available at the time of the visit. The blood work will be submitted to the lab and will be available within three days. Once the allergens are identified, options such as methods of avoidance, medication management, and/or allergy immunotherapy (shots) can be discussed.