Allergy testing provides concrete information about what you are and are not allergic to. Once you have identified what is causing your symptoms, your physician can develop a treatment plan specifically for those symptoms.
Adults and children over the age of 5 who experience allergy symptoms may be tested. Allergy symptoms include Itchy eyes, nose or throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, chest congestion, wheezing, hives, generalized itchiness, dermatitis, anaphylaxis, abdominal cramping or diarrhea, or stinging insect reactions.
The type of allergy skin testing that is performed is called the Prick Technique. A small puncture in the skin is made through a drop of allergen extract. If you are allergic, the spot where the allergen touched your skin will swell and itch a bit, and form a hive. If you are not allergic, the skin will remain normal. You will be tested with a variety of allergen extracts so the physician can determine exactly what you are allergic to. The slightly swollen, small hives go away within 30 minutes.
Your test results will be available within 20 minutes of testing. Based on the results, your physician will determine the best treatment for you.
There are two types of reactions that occur with allergy skin testing: local and/or systemic reactions.
Local Reactions: "A positive skin test." This reaction happens quickly and can remain 30 minutes to an hour after testing.
Systemic Reactions: A much less common reaction than local reactions. Systemic reactions are usually mild and respond rapidly to treatment. The symptoms and course of a systemic reaction or anaphylaxis can vary. Initial signs can be deceptively mild, such as a runny nose, hives, swelling of lips or throat, or a nondescript "strange feeling." These symptoms can quickly become more serious, including difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or other parts of the body, rapid drop in blood pressure, dizziness, unconsciousness or extremely rare-death.
Most serious systemic reactions develop within 30 minutes of the allergy pricks and this is why it is recommended that you wait in the office for 30 minutes following skin testing. However, these symptoms may present after you leave the office. If you experience a reaction after leaving the clinic, it is important to seek immediate emergency medical care.