Allergy testing can be accomplished through a few different modalities. We prefer skin testing over blood work testing as it is more sensitive and more accurate. Skin testing is also less expensive than other types of testing. However, depending on your situation, blood work may still be preferred due to certain medical circumstances for certain patients.
Skin testing for allergies is easy. It takes place over a 75-minute appointment on site at our office. Patients five years and older can be tested. When you first arrive for skin testing you will compete a breathing test called spirometry. Spirometry will help us get a good picture of your lung health and make sure we move forward in a safe manner. This test measures how much and how quickly you can move air out of your lungs. This portion of testing takes approximately 5-minutes and is painless.
Once you have passed your breathing test, we can move on to the actual skin testing portion. We utilize two different testing methods to form an accurate picture of your alleries. Prick Testing is performed first. This involves putting liquid allergy formulations on the skin and pressing it firmly into the top layers of the skin with a small plastic device. This is generally performed on the forearms, but may be done on the back. When complete, we move on to the second stage of testing called Intradermal Testing. This requires a minimal amount of allergen extract to be injected under the skin to test for further reaction. If you or your child reacts to one of the allergens, your skin will respond with minor swelling, redness and itching.
Your allergy skin test may include testing for many different types of allergens, including:
– Environmental allergens, such as: dust mites, pet dander, tree pollens, weeds, grasses, and more
– Food allergens, such as: eggs, milk, soy, peanut, and others
– Penicillin formulations
Skin testing is extremely safe. Our clinicians only recommend skin testing for patients who are adequate candidates. Contraindications for allergy skin testing include: poorly controlled asthma, poor lung function, significant cardiovascular disease, frail health in an older adult, pregnancy, or those with a history of a severe reaction to only a minute amount of allergen.
All skin testing is performed on site within our allergy office. Trained clinicians are available if any problems arise. Although these rarely occur, our office staff is highly trained for emergency situations. We carry all the necessary medicines to stop or control systemic reactions.
Medications and Skin Testing
Certain medications can interfere with skin testing. These can include: antihistamines, blood pressure medications, psychotropic medications, anti-anxiety medications, nausea medications, and even over-the-counter medications. Michigan ENT & Allergy Specialists will provide you with a comprehensive list of medications that you should stop prior to your testing. You may need approval from your primary care provider before stopping certain medications. As always, contact us with any medication changes prior to testing.
During or after skin testing, you may experience minor and temporary skin reactions. If so, our office may recommend oral antihistamine medications and/or topical creams to alleviate or reduce symptoms of redness or itching.