Allergies are an overreaction of your immune system to a specific item (allergen). Allergic reactions can range from mildly annoying like sneezing and itching to potentially life-threatening problems.
Reasons for Test
Allergy tests are a group of tests. They are used to identify the allergens that are causing your allergic reactions. Your doctor can use this information to help you make an allergy management plan.
Allergy tests can cause itchiness locally. It is rare but some may have a severe allergic reaction to allergens used in testing. Your doctor will monitor you for some time after the test to manage any negative reactions.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
Keep a diary of your allergy symptoms. When you have symptoms, write them down, including:
For certain tests, your doctor may ask you to stop certain medications before the test.
Description of the Test
There are several types of allergy tests:
Your doctor may recommend an antihistamine after the test. This can reduce itchiness at the test site. For severe allergies, make sure you have your epipen available.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
You may have mild irritation where the substance is applied to the skin. The needle pricks are small but can be irritating.
Skin and patch test results are available immediately. Blood test results may take more time.
Avoiding your specific allergens will help lessen your symptoms. You and your doctor can also discuss additional steps to help control your allergic reactions.
Call Your Doctor
After the test, call your doctor if you develop a severe rash or have any questions or concerns.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Allergy Asthma Information Association
Calgary Allergy Network
Adkinson N, Yunginger J, Busse W, et al, eds. Middleton’s Allergy: Principles and Practice . 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby; 2003.
Allergy diagnostic testing: an updated practice parameter. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.acaai.o... . Accessed July 21, 2009.
Allergic rhinitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 2009. Accessed July 21, 2009.
Behrman RE, Kliegman RM, Jenson HB, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics . 17th ed. Saunders: Philadelphia, PA; 2004.
Tips to remember: allergy testing. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.o... . Accessed December 7, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD