A Patient's Guide to Allergy Skin Testing

Have you been suffering from watery eyes, sneezing, or hives? If so, then you may be affected by allergies, for which your primary care physician in Atlanta may recommend allergy skin testing. Keep reading to learn about this type of test and what you can expect. allergy - testing

Why It’s Done

One of the most important steps toward managing your allergies is understanding what’s causing them. It’s for this reason that doctors often advise their patients to take an allergy skin test. Skin testing allows your doctor to test you for many different allergens in a single clinic appointment.

How It Works

Allergy skin testing uses concentrated, liquid forms of some of the most common allergens, such as animal dander, mold, pollen, dust mites, and some foods. When these allergens get under your skin, they may trigger a rash that causes it to itch and become irritated. This process happens when you’re exposed to something that you’re allergic to, and your immune system produces antibodies and chemicals that attempt to fight off the aggravating substance. It’s this reaction that informs your doctor that you’re allergic to a particular allergen.

What to Expect

There are 3 primary types of allergy skin tests. During the first, called a scratch test, a nurse or doctor will clean your skin with alcohol, label different areas of your skin with a pen, and then place a drop of each allergen extract on your skin according to the labels. Then, your skin is gently scratched to let the allergen through the skin’s outer layer. Intradermal allergy skin testing involves injecting a small amount of a suspected allergen slightly under the skin. Finally, a patch test may be performed, which involves wearing a patch with the allergen on your back or arm.

When You’ll Get Your Results

Scratch and intradermal tests are usually completed in a one-hour clinic appointment, during which your doctor can inform you of what allergens your skin reacted to. Patch tests typically take about 48 hours and are often used to test for delayed reactions.