An allergy test is an exam performed by a trained allergy specialist to determine if a person’s body has an allergic reaction to a known substance. Allergy tests can be in the form of a blood test, a skin test, patch test, or an elimination diet.
- Inhaled – Inhaled allergens are the most common type of allergen. They affect the body when they come in contact with the lungs or membranes of the nostrils or throat. Pollen and pet dander are the most common inhaled allergens.
- Ingested – Ingested allergens are present in certain foods, such as tree nuts, soy, and seafood.
- Contact – Contact allergies occur when a substance, such as hair dye or detergent, comes in contact with a person’s skin.
How allergy testing is performed
An allergy test may involve either a skin test or a blood test. If a food intolerance is in question, then an elimination diet is often suggested.
Skin tests are not very invasive and, for most allergens, tend to produce quick results. The three types of skin tests are scratch, intradermal, and patch tests, with the most common test being the scratch test.
A scratch test, also called a puncture or skin prick test, checks for immediate allergic reactions. This test is done to identify allergies to pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and foods. To begin this test, the allergen is placed in liquid, and that liquid is placed on a section of your skin with a special needle that lightly punctures the allergen into the skin’s surface. The provider will closely monitor the patient’s skin to see how the body reacts to the allergen. If there is localized redness, swelling, or itchiness of the skin over the test site, the patient is allergic to that specific allergen.
Allergy blood tests are also used to find out if a person has an allergy. When a person comes in contact with an allergen, the body makes antibodies against it. Allergy blood tests are used to see if an individual’s blood contains these antibodies for a specific substance, such as peanuts or pollen. If a person’s blood contains these antibodies that are specific to a certain substance, it means they are allergic to that substance. These antibodies are what cause common allergy symptoms, such as rashes, itching, and sneezing.
With allergy skin testing and/or blood testing, we can discover hidden triggers, confirm suspected triggers, and provide additional treatments, including immunotherapy if appropriate. Contact Northeast Allergy, Asthma & Immunology today to schedule your appointment.