If you notice the signs of an allergic reaction, you should consider visiting a board-certified allergist for help identifying the allergen or substance that is triggering a specific allergic response. These specialists are highly trained and experienced in allergic testing, and can develop a personalized allergy treatment plan that includes allergy shots or immunotherapy, medications, and/or allergen avoidance to manage the symptoms.
Allergy skin tests are fast, reliable, and cost-effective compared to blood tests, and can be used to diagnose a wide range of allergic conditions, including:
- Food allergies
- Dermatitis (eczema)
- Allergic asthma
- Bee venom allergy
- Penicillin allergy
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- Latex allergy
The three common types of skin tests are:
- Skin prick test – results are available the same day
- Intradermal test – results are available the same day
- Skin patch test – results take several days
In general, skin tests can be safely used with people of all ages, from infants to seniors, except in a few cases, like when:
- You had a previous severe or life-threatening allergic reaction to that substance
- You’re taking medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants that may affect the test results
- You’re suffering from specific skin conditions that affect large areas of the skin, like severe eczema, dermatographism, or psoriasis, which limit the amount of clear, uninvolved skin to perform an effective test.
If you’re not a good candidate for skin tests, your specialist may recommend in vitro immunoglobulin E antibody tests. These tests check for the level of antibodies in your blood to determine how much it’s trying to fight certain allergens.
If the test is positive, it means that you’re allergic to that substance, with bigger wheels indicating greater sensitivity. Your specialist will then develop a custom treatment plan based on the results. It may include dietary changes, adjustments to your home or work environment, medications, or immunotherapy.