Allergy testing - skin

Patch tests - allergy; Scratch tests - allergy; Skin tests - allergy; RAST test; Allergic rhinitis - allergy testing; Asthma - allergy testing; Eczema - allergy testing; Hayfever - allergy testing; Dermatitis - allergy testing; Allergy testing; Intradermal allergy testing

Allergy skin tests are used to find out which substances cause a person to have an allergic reaction. These substances are called allergens.

RAST test

The RAST (Radioallergosorbent test) is a laboratory test performed on blood. It tests for the amount of specific IgE antibodies in the blood which are present if there is a true allergic reaction.

Allergy skin prick or scratch test

One of the most common methods of allergy testing is the scratch test or skin prick test. The test involves placing a small amount of the suspected allergy-causing substance (allergen) on the skin (usually the forearm, upper arm, or the back), and then scratching or pricking the skin so that the allergen is introduced under the skin surface. The skin is observed closely for signs of a reaction, which usually includes swelling and redness of the site. With this test, several suspected allergens can be tested at the same time, and results are usually obtained within about 20 minutes.

Intradermal allergy test reactions

Intradermal allergy testing is another method of skin testing to help determine whether an individual is allergic to a specific allergen. The test involves injection of a small amount of the suspected allergen under the surface of the skin. After about 20 minutes the area is examined for a reaction at the site. A typical reaction looks like a small hive with swelling and redness. The intradermal test is more sensitive than the skin prick test and can usually provide more consistent results.

Skin testing - PPD (R arm) and Candida (L)

The right arm represents a positive reaction to PPD (a skin test for tuberculosis protein). The left arm represents a positive reaction to Candida protein. Candida antigen is tested to determine if the individual's immune system is functioning well; a normal immune system demonstrates a positive reaction.

Every time you walk into your backyard, you start sneezing, sniffling, and feeling like you want to go back indoors. You're pretty sure you have an allergy, but what are you allergic to? Pollen? Grass? Your neighbor's Golden retriever? The only way to know for sure what's making you sneeze is to have allergy tests at your doctor's office. Let's talk about allergy testing. Your doctor may do one or more of several different types of allergy tests to see what's causing your allergies. One is a skin test. It can diagnose allergies to things like mold, pollen, animal fur, insect stings, and foods. With a skin test, your doctor will place a small amount of one substance, or several different substances just under the surface of the skin on your arm or back. You'll feel a little prick when the substances are placed under your skin. After 15 minutes or so, the doctor will look for signs that you're having a reaction. Usually your skin will get red or swollen if you're allergic to something in the test. Another way to test for allergies is to put a patch of the substance on your skin and leave it there for about 2 days, checking the area every day for any sign of a reaction. You may have a blood test. A blood test measures the amount of substances called antibodies that your body produces in response to a certain allergen. If you're allergic to food, you can try avoiding whatever foods you think might be making you sick. This is called elimination testing. Then you add back in each of the foods, one at a time, and look for signs of an allergic reaction. Your doctor may also try to trigger an allergic reaction in the office by having you eat the food or breathe in the substance you think causes your allergy. This is called a challenge test. The one risk to this test is that, if you're severely allergic, you could have a very serious reaction. Your doctor will watch you very closely during this test to make sure you're safe. Allergy tests are usually pretty accurate. But sometimes what bothers you in the real world won't show up on the test. If you have one test and it doesn't find your allergy trigger, your doctor may recommend having another type of test. Don't worry if it takes a while to find the source of your allergies. Your doctor will keep trying different methods until you learn exactly what's making you so miserable.

How the Test is Performed

How to Prepare for the Test

How the Test will Feel

Why the Test is Performed

Normal Results

What Abnormal Results Mean