According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, there are 12 million physician office visits from patients who are experiencing symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Similarly, there are 3 million visits from those who have contact dermatitis or eczema. Allergic reactions such as these can be mild or severe, and for some, even life-threatening. To get ahead of allergies and avoid complications, allergy testing is crucial.
What Is Allergy Testing?
Allergy tests are examinations that medical providers perform to determine if an individual is allergic to specific substances. During the test, you are observed for signs of allergic reactions. Together with your medical history, your doctor uses the results to confirm if an allergen is causing your symptoms.
There are different types of tests that allergy specialists can perform. Some require testing the skin for reactions, while others require testing a sample of your blood.
Skin Prick Allergy Test
One of the most common ways of determining allergies is the skin prick allergy test, which a nurse or allergy specialist can perform. With this evaluation, they can identify up to 50 different potential allergens simultaneously, including environmental and food allergies.
The specialist begins by cleaning a part of the body where they will administer the test. They often conduct puncture tests on either the arm or the back. The doctor or nurse will draw small marks on the skin. Next, they will apply small amounts of various allergen extracts inside or next to the marked area. Using a lancet, they will prick the skin, introducing the allergens into your body. It only causes mild discomfort.
The specialist will use two substances to check if your skin is reacting normally. One of these is saline or glycerine. It typically does not elicit a response from the body. If it does, your skin may be sensitive, making the test results slightly tricky to evaluate. The second substance is histamine, which usually causes a response. If your skin does not have a reaction, the test may not effectively detect your allergies.
After about ten minutes, the nurse or doctor will observe your skin. A red, raised bump should appear in response to an allergen to which you are allergic. Similarly, you are not allergic to substances where the skin is flat or looks unaffected.
Patch Test for Skin Sensitivities
Another way of detecting allergies is through a patch test. This examination is similar to the skin prick test in that it looks at the skin’s reaction to determine if an allergy is present. However, the body may not immediately react to some allergens. A patch test, which can test up to 30 different potential allergens, can identify allergies with a delayed response.
During this test, the specialist makes use of patches that contain concentrated forms of allergens. These patches are applied to your skin, usually on your arm or back. The nurse or doctor will then leave the patches on for about 48 hours. Your provider will advise you to avoid any activity that can cause heavy sweating, as well as bathing.
After the skin has been exposed to the allergens for two days, the specialist takes off the patches. They will check your skin for allergic reactions, including raised bumps, rashes, inflammation, itchiness, and redness. These symptoms point to an allergy.
Allergy Specialist in Bradenton, Florida
Allergy testing is essential to identify what triggers the symptoms you experience. Coming in for a skin prick or patch allergy test can help you get ahead of your allergies and avoid uncomfortable symptoms.
At Intercoastal Medical Group, we can help identify your allergies. Our clinic in Lakewood Ranch I can perform allergy testing for you. Our allergy and asthma specialist, Dr. Matthew Aresery, specializes in diagnosing and treating pediatric and adult allergic diseases. Aside from allergy tests, we also offer allergen immunotherapy through shots.
For appointments, you can reach us at (941) 362-8640 or use our online form to request an appointment. We look forward to helping you control your allergies and live a more comfortable life.