When Allergy Skin Test Should be Done and When Not

Allergy skin tests are done to find out the allergen or the substances that you are allergic to. During allergy skin test you are (your skin) exposed to suspected allergens (allergy causing substance) and is then observed for signs of allergic reaction. Allergy test can find out if you are allergic (cause reaction/symptoms if you touch, breathe, eat a particular substance under test) to a substance. Allergic skin test can also provide medical history.

Why allergy skin tests are done?

Allergy skin tests are done to find out if you are allergic to a particular substance. After an allergen is found, your doctor can make a treatment plan (that include allergy shoots or immune therapy and avoidance of allergen or allergic substance) for your allergy.

Skin tests for allergy are commonly done for allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), eczema or dermatitis, penicillin and other drug allergy, bee venom allergy, latex allergy, food allergies etc.

When allergy skin test should not be done?

Allergy skin tests are generally safe for all including elderly people, children and infants. However, you should not undergo allergy skin test in certain conditions and your doctor may advice you against allergy skin test in such situations such as

  • You have history of severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis because you are sensitive to penicillin and similar drugs.
  • If you have certain skin conditions such as dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, etc. in large part of your skin (especially in the parts of the skin where allergy skin test is done commonly), you may be advised against undergoing allergy skin test. Because, this may interfere with interpretation of allergy skin test results. A skin condition dermatographism may give unreliable allergy skin test.
  • If you are taking certain medications (such as antihistamines, antidepressants, immune suppressants etc.) that may interfere with the results, you should not undergo allergy skin test. Your doctor may recommend you to temporarily discontinue the medication and undergo test after some time.

If you cannot undergo allergy skin test for any of the above mentioned condition, you may benefit if you undergo in vitro immunoglobulin E antibody blood tests. These blood tests are not commonly preferred because they are less sensitive, less reliable and also more expensive (more reliable, highly sensitive and cheaper allergy skin tests are preferred for finding out allergens).

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