Allergies can be mild and annoying in some cases and downright debilitating in others. If you have severe allergies, it's probably a good idea to have a skin test performed by your doctor. This is the most common type of allergy test and will identify the specific allergens to which you are sensitive. Identifying these allergens will help your doctor create a treatment plan. Here is a closer look at this procedure.
Your allergist has the choice of three different types of skin tests. One is called a skin prick test, which involves pricking your skin and letting an allergen enter your body. In an intradermal test, the doctor injects an allergen into your skin with a needle. The third type is known as a patch test. In this instance, a patch laced with an allergen is placed on your skin. In all of the tests, if you are sensitive to the specific allergen, a red area on the skin called a wheal will appear.
A wide range of prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs can interfere with the test and lead to inaccurate results. Always inform your doctor about any medications you are taking well in advance of your test, as it might take as long as 10 days for your body to be free of the effects of a particular medicine. The classes of medications that can cause problems include over-the-counter heartburn drugs and antihistamines, along with prescription antihistamines and depressants.
In some instances, a skin test does not work as well as other tests. For example, if you are allergic to a prescription medication, skin testing may not be accurate. The test performs well when determining if you are allergic to penicillin, but does not give reliable results for other medications. If your allergist suspects you have an allergy to a drug other than penicillin, he may recommend another test called a drug challenge.
In general, allergy skin tests are very safe and you should have no adverse side effects other than some possible minor skin irritation. One rare exception is a reaction called anaphylaxis. This is an acute allergic reaction that affects multiple parts of the body simultaneously. The symptoms can include shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, inform your allergist immediately.
Getting a skin test can be a good way to determine the source of your allergies. For more information, contact your health provider or check out websites like http://www.oakbrookallergists.com.
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