Allergy Diagnosis: Skin Test

By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel

Allergy occurs when your immune system reacts violently to harmless things. Those things can be pollen, animal hair, and certain foods. The reactions can be severe, and sometimes even lethal. The best thing you can do to avoid getting an allergic reaction is to know what you are allergic to. Having a skin test is one method to determine your allergens.

What is skin testing?

Skin testing employs the use of common allergens in concentrated forms. Doctors will put the allergens on your skin to see how your skin react. Your skin may get irritated and itchy, like a mosquito bite. The explanation for this reaction is the mechanism of your immune system. When you come into contact with a potential allergen, your immune system releases antibodies. They will set off a chain of chemical reactions to fight the trigger. Depending on your skin reaction, your doctor will be able to detect your allergens.

Types of skin testing.

There are several types of skin testing.

Scratch test

Scratch test, also known as prick test, is the most common test.  Doctors will examine the skin on your forearm or back, then wash it with alcohol. Then, the doctor will mark some areas on your skin with a pen. After that, the doctor will put a drop of the potential allergen on each spot, and scratch it in. This is not a shot, and there will not be any blood.

Intradermal test

The preparation is pretty the same as the scratch test, except in this test, the allergen will be injected to the outer layer of your skin.

Patch test

In the patch test, the potential allergen is put into a patch, then stuck on your skin.

The test usually takes 30 minutes, including the waiting time for your skin to react. Patch tests require more time, often two doctor visits to complete. It is because you have to wear the patch for at least 48 hours so that any delayed reaction can emerge.

Is there any danger?

Skin testing is generally safe. Your skin can be irritated, but the exposure to the allergen is very limited. Whole-body reactions in skin testing are unlikely. However, you need to inform your doctor if you experience fever, dizziness, breathing difficulties, severe rashes, swellings, or swallowing troubles.

After the test, the allergens will be cleaned off your skin. If irritation occurs, your doctor will put some topical treatment on it to ease the symptom. Base on the result of your test, your doctor will give you a suitable treatment plan.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: November 24, 2016 | Last Modified: December 19, 2019

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