Allergy testing is done in order to find out what allergen causes an allergic reaction within a patient. There are a few ways in which an allergy test can be done. One of those ways is through a skin prick test. The good news is that this test is fast, reliable and not as expensive as blood tests.
Placing a small drop of the solution containing possible allergen onto the skin is how the skin prick test is conducted. Some needle pricks or scratches are then made, allowing the solution to make its way inside of the skin. If this area of the skin then develops an area that is red, itchy and somewhat raised, then the patient is said to have a positive reaction. If such a reaction occurs, then the patient is said to be allergic to this allergen.
Inhaled/airborne allergens can also be tested for via the skin prick test. These include weeds, trees, shrubs, dust, feathers, molds and pet dander. However, it is important to understand that this type of allergy test can also be done in order to what foods a person may be allergic to. This includes such things as peanuts, nuts, milk, wheat, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish. It can also be used to test to see if a patient is allergic to medications or insect bites as well. Since this skin prick allergy test can be used to test for all of these different things, some patients opt to take this allergy test so that they can find out everything that they are allergic to, all with only one test.
Whenever you have skin prick test done, the doctor will use a simple procedure. This procedure starts off by having the patient’s skin cleaned with alcohol. Usually the skin on the patient's back or arm is used. Some drops of what the patient may possibly be allergic to are then placed upon the skin, approximately 1 inch to 2 inches apart, thus allowing for numerous different items to be tested all at once. The skin underneath of each drop is then pricked with a needle so that some of the substance can penetrate the skin. After 12 to 15 minutes the skin is checked for any areas that are red, raised, and/or itchy. Any such areas are considered to be a positive reaction and they will show the doctor what allergens the patient is allergic to. This entire process usually takes well under an hour to complete, which is another reason why so many doctors and patients truly like this procedure.
The results of your allergy test will then help you and your doctor decide what allergy treatment is the right one for you. In such cases where it is thought to be a good idea for a patient to have treatment, there are is immunotherapy (allergy shots) and prescription medications available for treating the patient. Finding the right treatment begins with being tested for allergens and ends with the patient consulting with their doctor to figure out which remedy is best for them.
Author: Nikola Babovic is editor of Beyond Allergy - an online magazine and resource for allergy sufferers offering latest news and information on different types of allergies and treatments.