If you have been told you need to be tested for allergies, you may be wondering what to expect, or how to prepare for your allergy test.
That’s why we created this helpful guide to allergy testing. While it may sound scary, allergy tests are actually quite simple. And, someone is always on hand with medications and medical support, just in case you have a bigger reaction than expected.
What to Expect During Your Allergy Testing
Once you have arrived at your appointment your doctor is probably going to examine you and take a full medical history, including any medications you may be currently taking. This is very important, as some medications can interfere with tests. Your doctor can advise you as to which, if any, you may need to stop taking for a specific amount of time. (Some medications can take a week to ten days to clear out of your system.) Of course, it should go without saying that you should never stop taking a medication or alter the way you take it, unless directed by your physician.
There are several different ways to test for allergies, with the most common being a patch test, skin injection test, or a skin prick test. The skin prick test (sometimes called a scratch or puncture test) is not painful. It is used to determine if you have an immediate reaction to as many as 40 different allergens in one sitting. It usually identifies common allergies to mold, pollen, dust mites, food, and pet dander. Adults are usually tested on the arm, while children are often tested on their upper back.
During the test, small lines will be drawn on the test area. A drop of allergen will be applied using a sterile lancet that pricks the surface of the skin. After 15 minutes or so, someone will check to see if you have had any form of reaction to the allergen. If you react, a small bump, much like a mosquito bite, will appear. The bigger the reaction, the larger the bump.
The skin injection test is similar in that a needle is used to inject a small amount of allergen just below the skin. This test is often used to determine if you are sensitive to insect bites or penicillin. After 15 minutes or so, the injection site will be examined and or measured.
The patch test is usually done to diagnose contact dermatitis (where the skin is irritated by coming into contact with a particular substance). Patch tests actually detect delayed reactions and may take several days to be conclusive. Patch tests, as the name implies, are done with a patch, and do not break the skin. Most patients wear the patch for about 48 hours. Your doctor may advise you to avoid activities in which you would sweat or become wet, such as showering or swimming.
Once your allergies have been diagnosed, your doctor can provide treatment with medications or specially formulated injections to reduce your sensitivity.
If you would like to know more about allergy testing or to make an appointment with our caring allergy and asthma specialist, Matthew Aresery, MD , please call Intercoastal Medical Group today at (941) 362-8641 for an appointment, or request one online right now.