Are you suffering from allergies all the year round? Constantly sneezing or stuffy nose making your life miserable? Whether you are sensitive to airborne and environmental allergens or chemicals that we use on a daily basis, we can identify the specific trigger and devise a treatment plan to make you improve your condition significantly. At Sleep & Wellness, we perform two types of allergy tests: the scratch or skin prick test and the patch test.
Scratch test/Skin prick test
A skin prick test, also called a scratch test, checks for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 48-56 different common allergen at once. This test is usually done to identify allergies to common environmental allergens like pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and foods. Allergy skin tests aren't painful. This type of testing uses needles (lancets) that barely penetrate the skin's surface. You won't bleed or feel more than mild, momentary discomfort.
After cleaning the test site with alcohol, the nurse draws small marks on your skin and applies a drop of allergen extract next to each mark. He or she then uses a lancet to prick the extracts into the skin's surface. A new lancet is used for each allergen.
Patch testing is generally done to see whether a particular substance is causing allergic skin irritation (contact dermatitis). Patch tests can detect delayed allergic reactions, which can take several days to develop.
Patch tests don't use needles. Instead, allergens are applied to patches, which are then placed on your skin. During a patch test, your skin may be exposed to 20 to 30 extracts of substances that can cause contact dermatitis. These can include latex, medications, fragrances, preservatives, hair dyes, metals and resins.
You wear the patches on your arm or back for 48 hours. During this time, you should avoid bathing and activities that cause heavy sweating. The patches are removed when you return to your doctor's office. Irritated skin at the patch site may indicate an allergy.
What can I expect during a skin test?
A number of different allergens will be tested. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to place the allergens on your skin. They are usually put on the back in adults. Then you will wait about 15 minutes to see if a small red lump appears where any of the allergens were placed.
The prick or scratch test and intradermal test may hurt slightly. If you are sensitive to any of the allergens, your skin may itch where the allergen was placed.
How should I prepare for the test?
Don't take antihistamines e.g. allegra or benadryl for 3 to 7 days before the test. It’s ok to take intranasal or asthma medications.
Is the test safe?
Very small amounts of allergens are tested on your skin, so skin testing is safe. During the test, the allergist will watch for a possible severe allergic reaction, but it rarely happens.