Allergy testing is a necessary step in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. There are hundreds of substances in our environment that may cause allergic reactions in certain individuals, so if you are experiencing allergy symptoms (sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchiness, congestion, swelling, etc), it is imperative to pinpoint exactly which allergens are to blame. At McGovern Allergy and Asthma Clinic, we perform two days of comprehensive testing that includes 120 prick tests and approximately nine intradermal skin tests per day. For those who have a limited amount of time, or for whom a complete test is for some reason unnecessary, partial versions of the test are also available.
Because they yield the most immediate results, allergy skin tests are the most popular kind of allergy test, with the puncture, or prick, test being the most widely used. Skin tests are appropriate for children and adults alike. Special precautions, however, should be taken in cases involving very small children. While we are able to give punch tests to patients as young as two months of age, we are careful to monitor the child's level of comfort throughout the procedure. Small infants may require more than two days of testing.
During your skin test, your allergist will puncture your skin, introducing tiny amounts of specific allergens into your body. The test is usually done on your arm or back. There is some pain associated with the test and the process may involve a mild to moderate short period of discomfort.
If you are allergic to one of the substances, the skin around the area will react by swelling, turning red, or itching. These symptoms should subside within minutes or hours. If you have further questions about the skin test procedure in general, or about our comprehensive two-day or partial one-day work-ups, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of specialists has years of experience administering and interpreting skin tests, and will be happy to design a treatment program to meet your specific needs.