Contrary to popular belief, nobody is born with allergies. Though newborn infants’ genetics can predispose them to certain allergies, they will not present in the body until later. Parents may have their suspicions, but for definitive results, allergy testing, such as allergy patch testing, needs to be administered and analyzed.
Types of Allergy Testing
Allergies are the body’s adverse reactions to otherwise harmless substances. Allergic reactions can be mild or potentially life-threatening. Allergies are extremely common, affecting more than 50 million people in the United States.
In the first few months of life, a baby’s immune system is developing. For this reason, allergy testing is often not done until later in life. Though technically, a person can be tested for allergies at any age, doctors typically recommend waiting until six months of age. Prior to receiving data from an allergy test, a person (especially children) should avoid coming into contact with suspected, allergy-causing substances and food.
The Allergy Tests Your Doctor May Recommend
When your doctor suspects an allergy, your doctor might recommend one of the following tests:
- Skin Prick Allergy Test - This common test for common environmental, seasonal, food, and medication allergies involves the pricking of the skin. The suspected allergen is placed on the exposed skin. After 15 minutes, the skin is evaluated to determine whether a reaction has occurred. This test is often successful in detecting allergies to pollen, mold, pet hair, dust, and certain foods.
- Intradermal Allergy Skin Test - Similar to the skin prick allergy test, an intradermal test uses a needle to place a solution containing the allergen under the skin.
- Blood Test (also called skin injection test) - This common allergy test involves analyzing a blood sample for suspected allergens.
- Food and Drug Challenge Tests - If this type of allergy is suspected, a test involving small portions of food or drug may be administered. Due to a high risk of allergic reactions, this type of test is often overseen by a physician.
- Allergy Patch Test - Patch tests are often administered for patients who suffer from dermatitis or other skin irritations. Patches containing diluted allergens (such as beauty products, latex, medications, fragrances, metals, and resins) are applied to the skin. Up to 100 different allergens can be applied at once. Usually these patches stick on a person’s back. They remain there for 48 hours and are tested for positive reactions after 96 hours. If an allergy is detected, the person’s skin will usually appear red, raised, or blistered.
How to Prepare for Allergy Patch Testing and Food Allergy Testing
A person preparing to undergo allergy testing is often recommended to refrain from antihistamines up to three days prior to the test. Some antacids contain antihistamines and therefore should also be avoided. Other, more serious medications such as beta-blockers and tricyclic antidepressants can interfere with an allergy test. A person preparing for an allergy test should consult with their physician before pausing such medications.
When skin patches are applied, avoid bathing, showering, and excessive exercise that can cause perspiration. Sweat can sometimes dislodge the patches and cause inaccurate results. Also, avoid any topical steroids on the area where the patches are to be placed three days prior to testing.
Living With Allergies
If you think you might have developed an allergy or would like more information about allergy testing, the professionals at Bass Medical group can help.
At BASS Medical, we have a dedicated Allergy and Immunology department. Our board-certified allergy immunologists are qualified to diagnose, manage, and treat a wide range of conditions including:
- Hay fever
- Pet allergies
- Food allergies
- Chemical/drug allergies
- Bee sting allergies
- Chronic cough
- Sinus disease
- Recurrent infections
BASS Medical Can Help
Contact BASS Medical Group today for optimal care in treating several illnesses, allergy types, and more.