Why Skin Testing Is the Best Form of Allergy Testing

Allergies affect at least 50 million people in the United States each year. On the list of chronic illnesses, allergies rank sixth.

At AllCare Family Medicine and Urgent Care of Atlanta, our highly trained team responds to every case with the utmost concern, dedication, and professionalism to address your allergy symptoms. Where testing for allergies is concerned, our doctors can order a series of tests to determine your triggers. Here’s why skin testing is considered the best form of allergy testing.

How skin tests work

There are three main skin tests that check for allergies — the scratch test, the intradermal (skin injection) test, and the patch test. The entire process for the test takes 30 minutes to an hour. It usually takes about 15 minutes for your skin to react after the allergen has been introduced.

Scratch test

This is the most common form of skin testing; you may also hear it called a puncture or prick test. 

During the scratch test, your provider cleans the skin on your forearm or the back of your arm with alcohol and makes marks on your skin with a pen for each allergy-causing substance you’re exposed to. A drop of each allergen is then placed on each one of these spots. Painless scratches are made around each allergen. You do not bleed from the scratches.

Skin injection test

These tests involve injecting a tiny amount of allergen in the dermal layer of your skin. You may experience a little sting as the needle breaks your skin, but that’s all.

Patch test

Patch tests may be recommended for babies and children. These tests involve an allergen being placed on a patch, and the patch then being stuck on the forearm or the back of the arm. The patch may require two trips to our clinic to determine if there is a reaction. We recommend keeping the patch on for at least 48 hours in case reactions are delayed.

Advantages of skin tests

Skin tests are highly sensitive and can detect allergies that other forms of testing may miss. Today’s skin tests are relatively safe, and they’re quick and simple to carry out. The wait time to get results is short — with results being able to be delivered within 20 minutes, compared to blood tests that take a week or two.

Furthermore, skin tests involve little to no pain, making them favorable to perform even on children. The tests themselves are also more affordable than other forms of allergy testing. 

The AllCare Family Medicine team prefers skin tests because they allow us to compare your symptoms to a wide range of allergens, giving us the opportunity to make more accurate diagnoses.

How to prepare for skin testing

When you come in for your initial consultation, we ask you about the medication you’re taking and other drugs you may be exposed to. You may need to stop taking some medications briefly before we begin testing. If you’re on medication that cannot be stopped, we can find alternative solutions to skin testing.

Where to get help for allergies

Allergies may be seasonal or perennial, and if you have children, they can cause quite a scare if symptoms come on suddenly and you’re not familiar with treatment methods. The entire team at AllCare Family Medicine and Urgent Care of Atlanta is ready to help you with any allergy testing and treatments. Contact us today to make an appointment by calling or using our online booking tool.

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