They say that knowing your enemy is one of your best tools if you hope to win at any given war. That certainly holds true with the war with allergies. Knowing the things to which you are allergic to is the first step in skipping those rather uncomfortable allergy bouts. While discovering those through trial and error can serve as your training ground, it is still a better option for you to get allergy tested by a licensed physician so you can have some definitive answers regarding your allergy triggers and receive proper treatments soon thereafter.
What is Allergy Testing?
For centuries, skin tests are being done in order to determine a person’s sensitivity to things/allergens. These tests are deemed safe for people of all ages and involves exposing a person to a small amount of allergen in order to measure if that individual is sensitive to a particular substance or not.
Prior to any skin testing, you’ll need to discontinue the use of any substance or medications that can interfere with the true results of your tests. These products may include the intake of both over-the-counter and prescription anti-allergy (antihistamines) medications, antidepressants, and some medications for the treatment of heartburn.
Below is a list of the types of skin tests for allergies.
1.Intradermal test. This is where purified allergens are injected into your epidermis, normally into the skin in your arm. This is most commonly done to check your sensitivity to antibiotics and insect venoms.
2.Scratch test. One of the most common types of allergy testing. Small amounts of allergen samples are scratched into the surface of your skin and are used to identify if you are allergic to pollens, dust, mites, dander and so on.
3.Patch test. The physician will get to apply a patch of allergen to your skin and observe for any reaction. This is usually done to know which substances might cause your irritation (referred to as contact dermatitis); medications, latex, hair dye, preservatives, resins and other medications. The patch may need to remain in place for a few days to arrive at the most accurate conclusion possible.
What You Need to Expect during an Allergy Testing
Intradermal testing may cause very little pain, since the needle is just penetrating the skin’s surface. These tests will also allow you to see an immediate reaction should you be allergic to a certain substance. Results for patch tests on the other hand may take a while. In patch testing, you’ll know if you’re allergic to anything if a red, itchy bump develops on your skin over time. Bigger bumps equate to higher rates of sensitivity, while the non-appearance of a bump is interpreted as a negative result, meaning not allergic to that substance.
The most common side effect of skin testing is itchiness and redness at the test site which normally subsides after just a few hours. In rare cases that a skin test progresses to a severe allergic reaction, make sure to get emergency treatment at nearby health facilities.
Remember that your allergies may change and develop through-out your lifetime. There will be cases wherein you’ll test negative for a particular substance now but then develop some sensitivity to it further down the road. It may be best for you to undergo a few more allergy testing in the future if in case you notice that you are experiencing some atypical reactions to once benign substances. Allergy tests can give you a confirmation about things that you may already have suspected – that your watery eyes, frequent sneezing and bouts of hives are a result of an occurring allergic reaction. A health professional may then use these data to create a course of treatment that may include intake of medications that can lessen your symptoms, avoidance of your allergy triggers and giving you some allergy shots (immunotherapy) to gradually increase your tolerance against those allergens.