If you suffer from allergies, you're likely all too familiar with the sniffling, sneezing, and itching that comes along with them. However, what you may not be familiar with is skin allergy testing. Allergy testing is a common and relatively painless way to determine exactly what substances you're allergic to. By understanding what it is that is making you so miserable, you can take steps to avoid it and reduce your symptoms.
What is Skin Allergy Testing?
Skin allergy testing involves exposing your skin to small amounts of allergens to determine what is causing you to react. The allergens used will depend on your particular case, but common ones include pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, and certain foods. Additionally, different allergens require different types of skin allergy tests.
Are There Different Types of Skin Allergy Testing?
Some allergens require different methods of contact, including:
- Skin injection. When testing for an allergic reaction to venom or insect bites, your doctor will inject a small amount under your skin to gauge your body's reaction. The allergen is injected to mimic what would happen in nature.
- Skin prick. A skin prick test involves exposing your skin to small amounts of allergens, usually through a series of skin pricks or scratches. A reaction should happen in just a few minutes, but your doctor may wait longer to examine the results.
- Patch test. In some cases, an allergy specialist may perform a patch test, which involves placing a small amount of allergen on a pad that's then taped to your skin for 48 hours. Patch tests are generally used to test for reactions to things like poison ivy or latex that typically have a delayed allergic reaction.
If you're allergic to a substance, you'll usually develop a red, raised bump where it comes in contact with your skin.
Why Get Tested?
Skin allergy testing can help you understand your allergies and take steps to avoid them. Once you know what you're allergic to, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your symptoms. For example, if you're allergic to pollen, you may decide to wear a face mask when outdoors during peak pollen seasons. If you learn that you are allergic to bee stings, your doctor may prescribe an epi-pen to avoid anaphylactic shock.
Allergy testing can also help identify other conditions that may be causing similar symptoms. For example, hay fever and non-allergic rhinitis have very similar symptoms, but the treatments are very different. Allergy testing can help your doctor accurately diagnose and treat your condition.
Allergy testing is a common and relatively painless way to determine what substances are causing your allergies. Instead of suffering in silence, talk to your doctor about whether skin allergy testing may be right for you.
To find out more, contact a company like Allergy and Asthma Care of Blakeney PLLC: Steven McEldowney, MD.