If you have an allergy, it’s because your immune system is overreacting to a substance it believes is harmful. The substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. For example, if you have an allergy to mold, your immune system identifies mold as the allergen. Your immune system is in control of how the body defends itself. When your immune system overreacts it makes an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals causing an allergic reaction. The types of reactions can range from a rash on the skin to a life-threatening response.
Diagnosing Your Allergy Symptoms
How you can properly achieve a diagnosis for your allergy symptoms is with an allergy test in combination with your medical history and a physical exam. After assessing all the information collected, our providers can determine what allergens are causing your symptoms and what substances are not. Allergy testing can be conducted as blood tests or skin tests.
Blood tests only involve a single needle prick. However, it takes a long time to get the results and depending on the test, there is a possibility for false positives. Blood tests also tend to cost more than skin tests.
Some reasons why an allergy blood test is used:
- A patient is taking medicine that can interfere with skin testing and cannot be stopped for a few days.
- A patient suffers from a severe skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema
- The testing with a strong allergen could cause an extra large positive reaction.
There are a few types of skin tests and you can obtain the results faster than a blood test. The testing isn’t painful and usually takes about 20 to 40 minutes. Some tests detect immediate allergic reactions which develop within a few minutes of exposure to the allergen. Other tests detect a delayed allergic reaction which develops over a period of days.
Skin Prick Test
A skin prick test, which is also called a puncture or scratch test, checks for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 40 different substances at once. This test is usually done to identify allergies to mold, pollen, food, pet dander, and dust mites.
A skin prick test uses needles called lancets that barely penetrate your skin’s surface. The specialist draws small marks on your skin and applies a drop of allergen extract next to each mark. They then use a lancet to prick the extracts into your skin’s surface and observe how your skin reacts. This testing is usually done on the forearm and won’t make you bleed, however, you may have some momentary discomfort.
Skin Injection or Intradermal Test
Skin injection or Intradermal testing uses a needle to inject a small amount of allergen extract just into the skin on your arm. After 15 minutes, the injection site is examined for signs of an allergic reaction.
Patch testing is administered to see whether a particular substance is causing allergic skin irritation. Patches with allergens are placed on your skin to detect delayed allergic reactions to 20 to 30 extracts of substances, which can take several days to develop.
Finding out what allergens are causing your symptoms is a fairly simple process to improve your quality of life. Once your doctor can pinpoint the suspected allergens and assess the severity of your allergic reaction they can develop an allergy treatment plan that may include allergen avoidance, medication, or immunotherapy.
Find the Best Allergy Treatment
Sick of suffering from seasonal allergies? At South Florida Sinus & Allergy Center,
we provide a method of testing for allergens which combines prick and intradermal testing to accurately determine the causes to your symptoms. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 954-983-1211.