More than 50 million people in the United States have allergies. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Today allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.
Any medical test involves some risk. The risk with allergy skin tests is that allergy symptoms might occur during the test. The most common symptoms are itching and swelling of the skin where the tests are. In rare cases, a more serious reaction can occur. That is why skin tests should be done in specialty clinics..
What About Allergy Testing in Children? Who Can be Tested For Allergies?
Adults and children of any age can be tested for allergies.
There are two types of skin tests. During the first type of skin test, a drop of a suspected allergen is pricked on the surface of the skin. The test is performed on the back or forearm. Many suspected allergens are tested at the same time. If you are allergic to one of the tests, you will have redness and swelling at the test spot.
Sometimes the doctor will recommend a second type of test. In this type, a small amount of the suspected allergen is injected into the skin of the arm or forearm. Several suspected allergens are tested at the same time.
How long does it take to get skin test results?
Skin testing is fast. For both types of skin tests, positive reactions usually appear within 20 minutes. Sometimes redness and swelling can occur several hours after skin testing. The delayed reaction usually disappears in 24 to 48 hours, but should be reported to the allergy doctor or nurse.
Both types of skin tests have little or no pain. However, positive reactions cause annoying itching red bumps which look and feel like mosquito bites. The itching and bumps are gone usually in just a few short minutes or hours.
Some medicines do interfere with allergy skin tests. The physician will tell you if you have to change your medicine before allergy skin testing.