Allergies are very common, affecting many people all over the world. Allergies can affect your daily life, and some of them can be hard to get under control. Whether you’re plagued with constant sniffles and sneezing or covered in a rash, you want relief from your allergies as soon as possible. The first step is to get to the bottom of what’s causing your allergies, and you can do that through allergy testing.
At Shine Health and Wellness in Pasadena, California, Kimberley Shine, MD, can pinpoint what’s causing your allergies and design a plan to give you relief.
Why is allergy testing needed?
When you think of an allergic reaction, you might think of anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening symptom of an allergy. However, allergies don’t have to cause life-threatening symptoms. In fact, most of the time the symptoms are just enough to make day-to-day living uncomfortable.
You might experience excessive sneezing fits along with watery eyes or a runny nose. However, there are many other symptoms of allergies, including the following:
- Diffuse itching
You may experience one or many symptoms. They may also come and go or be pretty constant. This is why finding out the exact allergen that is causing your symptoms is the key to successful treatment. If allergies are affecting your life, it may be time for allergy testing.
How do allergy tests work?
The most common kind of allergy testing is skin testing, of which there are three types: scratch testing, intradermal testing, and patch testing. If these tests don’t yield results or are not safe for you, Dr. Shine can order blood testing.
1. Scratch test
The first type of skin test that is usually performed is the scratch test. This test is performed by placing drops of suspected allergens on different areas of your skin. Dr. Shine labels where each allergen is placed.
After the drops are placed on your skin, she makes a tiny prick in the middle of the samples, allowing the allergen to penetrate your skin. If you’re allergic to one or more of the allergen samples, your skin should react with either a hive or redness within a few minutes.
2. Intradermal test
If the scratch test doesn’t provide conclusive results, Dr. Shine will perform an intradermal test. With this test, the allergens are injected into different areas of your skin. If you’re allergic to any of the allergens, you should exhibit a skin reaction, such as swelling or redness within a few minutes.
3. Patch test
If the scratch or intradermal tests don’t yield results, Dr. Shine will perform a patch test. This is done by placing tiny patches that contain specific allergens on your skin. These patches then stay in place when you go home. Dr. Shine has you come back in two days to check your skin for a reaction.
4. Blood test
If the skin tests aren’t conclusive or if they’re not safe for you, Dr. Shine can order blood testing to determine the cause of your allergies. For this test, a lab tech takes a sample of your blood from your arm, and that sample is sent to a lab. Once your results are in, Dr. Shine informs you of the results.
Once Dr. Shine knows what’s triggering your allergies, she can design a treatment plan to help you avoid those triggers.
How do you prepare for allergy testing?
Allergy testing is pretty straightforward and doesn’t involve a whole lot of preparation. Dr. Shine may recommend that you stop taking certain medications several days before your appointment to make sure the testing is as accurate as possible. This could include prescription and over-the-counter medications.
She’ll likely request that you stop taking antihistamine medications several days before your testing, because these medications help stop the body from reacting to allergens, and taking them could cause inaccurate results.
Allergy testing is very safe, but it could be slightly uncomfortable. If you’re getting skin testing, the area where the testing is performed may be itchy, red, or swollen for a short period of time. However, the symptoms should dissipate within a few hours.
If you’re tired of dealing with allergies and are ready to find out the culprits, book an appointment online or over the phone with Shine Health and Wellness today.