Dr. Bob and Dr. Travis Cain discuss skin testing.
What is skin testing?
A skin test is a simple series of tiny scratches made on the surface of the skin on your back. The scratches are conducted with a small instrument similar to a plastic toothpick, which contains trace amounts of a single allergen, such as pet dander, pollen and mold. If you are allergic to a substance, a small mosquito bite-like bump will appear. For those patients who do not react to this type of skin test, an intradermal process may be performed.
Why have a skin test?
Our allergist can determine your unique allergy profile and the severity of your allergies based on the results of the skin test. Because everyone has specific allergic triggers, knowing what you are allergic to is important for effective treatment.
How long does it take?
A skin test will take approximately two to three hours. You may be asked to stop taking antihistamines or other decongestant drugs prior to your visit. Some drugs may interfere with the results of your tests, and getting the most accurate results from your initial assessment is very important. If you have any questions regarding medication you may be taking, please ask the allergist prior to your appointment.
Will I experience any side affects?
If you are allergic to any of the allergens used in the skin test, the area where the allergen was placed will become raised and red. The size of the reddened area will depend on the severity of your allergy. Some mild itching may occur, but a topical cream can be applied to reduce any discomfort. This type of reaction is normal and will clear itself within 20 minutes.
What happens after a skin test?
An allergy skin test is the first step in finding relief from your allergies. Based on the results of your test, we will recommend a treatment plan that’s best for you. Treatment plans can include avoidance of allergens, medications, and/or allergy shots or drops (immunotherapy).