Frequently Asked Questions About Allergy Skin Testing: The ABCs of Sensitive Skin

by Brent Woods

When it comes to diagnosing allergies, skin testing is among the most common methods. Skin testing is used to identify allergies to a variety of substances, including foods, environmental allergens, and medications.

There are many questions about skin testing, and this article answers some of the most commonly asked questions.

What Is Allergy Skin Testing? 

Allergy skin testing is a way for doctors to determine what substances a person is allergic to. The test is usually done by putting a small amount of the suspected allergen on the person's skin and then observing the skin for signs of an allergic reaction.

Allergy skin testing can test for allergies to things like pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, and certain foods. The test is generally quick and relatively painless, and it can provide valuable information for people struggling with allergies.

What Are the Different Types of Allergy Skin Tests?

There are two types of allergy skin tests: prick and intradermal testing. The skin prick test is a relatively common procedure with minimal invasion. It involves putting a tiny drop of an allergen extract on the skin and then making a small prick in the skin with a needle. If you're allergic to the tested substance, you'll have a red, itchy bump. 

The intradermal test is more invasive than the skin prick test and is used when the skin prick test is negative, but there's still a suspicion that you might be allergic to a substance. In this test, a small amount of allergen extract is injected into the skin with a needle. If you're allergic to the substance being tested, the area around the injection will become red, itchy, and swollen.

Both tests are relatively quick and easy to do and can be done in your doctor's office.

Who's Eligible for Allergy Skin Testing? 

Most people who think they have allergies are candidates for allergy skin testing. The test is not recommended for people with certain conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, because these conditions can interfere with the test results.

People taking certain medications, such as beta-blockers or antihistamines, may not be able to have allergy skin testing. That's because these medications can also interfere with the results.

In addition, if you have severe allergies, you may not be able to have allergy skin testing because of the risk of a severe reaction. Since allergy skin testing involves exposing yourself to potential allergens, it's important to work with an allergy specialist who can help you determine if the test is right for you.

For more information, reach out to a practice such as Allergy and Asthma Care of Blakeney PLLC: Steven McEldowney, MD.