Skin Testing

With the skin test puncture method, disposable devices called Multitest applicators are used to place multiple drops (8/applicator) of antigen on the cleansed skin usually of the back. With this device, the skin is then superficially punctured with a rocking motion allowing a small amount of the allergen to enter the very top cell layer of skin.  If you have an allergy, the specific allergens that you are allergic to will cause a chain reaction to begin in the superficial skin layer only. After 10-15 minutes the test area is observed and size of the reactions is measured and recorded for interpretation by the physician.

Results are interpreted by comparison to a [positive] histamine control and a [negative] normal saline control. Anaphylaxis or systemic (body) reactions during this type of skin test is relatively rare. The allergen extracts or vaccines used in allergy tests are made commercially and are standardized according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements.

Adults and children of any age can be tested for allergies. Because different allergens bother different people, we will take your medical history to determine which test is the best for you. Some medications can interfere with skin testing. Antihistamines, in particular, can inhibit some of the skin test reactions. Use of any antihistamines should be stopped 5-7 days prior to skin testing (including eye drops or nasal sprays that contain antihistamines)

Test results are available within 15 minutes of testing, so you don't have to wait long to find out what is triggering your allergies. And you won't have any other symptoms besides the slightly swollen, small hives where the test was done; this goes away within 30 minutes.

Allergy tests provide concrete specific information about what you are and are not allergic to. Once you have identified the specific allergen(s) causing your symptoms, we can develop a treatment plan aimed at controlling or eliminating your allergy symptoms.

Blood testing (RAST) is used when skin testing is prohibited (i.e. certain skin conditions, dermatographism and those on prohibitive medications that cannot be discontinued). It is considered less specific and more expensive than skin testing but has recently provided more reliable data with less dependence on individual lab performance. We continue to strive for development of testing methods that deliver reproducible, clinically significant results with better patient tolerance.

Date: 1/21/2005

Print this Page

Show Patient Education List