Allergy Testing

A skin test is a method of testing for allergic antibodies. The test consists of introducing small amounts of the suspected allergen into the skin and noting the development of a positive reaction such as a welt, swelling or redness. You will be tested for airborne allergens, foods and pollens such as trees, grasses, weeds, molds, dust mites and animal dander.

The skin test methods are:

  • Prick method: The skin is pricked with a needle where a drop of allergen has already been placed.
  • Intradermal method: This method consists of injecting small amounts of an allergen into the superficial layers of the skin.

The skin test generally takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Skin tests are usually performed on your back, but may also be performed on your arms. If you have a specific allergic sensitivity to one of the allergens, a red, raised, itchy bump will appear on your skin within 15 to 20 minutes. These positive reactions will generally disappear over a period of 30 to 60 minutes; typically, no treatment is necessary for this itchiness. Occasionally local swelling at a test site will begin four to eight hours after the skin tests are applied, particularly at sites of testing.

Skin testing is administered at our medical facility with a physician or health care professional present, since occasional reactions may require immediate therapy. These reactions may consist of any of the following symptoms: itchy eyes, nose, or throat; nasal congestion; runny nose; tightness in the throat or chest; increased wheezing; lightheadedness; cough; faintness; nausea and vomiting; hives; generalized itching and shock (the latter only under extreme circumstances). Please note that these reactions rarely occur, but in the event of a serious reaction, our staff is fully trained and emergency equipment is available.

After skin testing, you will consult with your physician or other health care professional who will make recommendations regarding your treatment.