If you have allergy symptoms, going through allergy testing is the best way to determine what you’re allergic to and how to best treat you. To ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis, allergy testing is crucial. Research has shown that skin testing is the most effective allergy testing available.
Skin Test Overview
In general, skin testing is faster, more accurate, and less expensive than a blood test. This kind of allergy testing can be completed at a visit to a board-certified allergist. While there are other methods that reportedly determine allergies, none of these have been shown to accurately determine allergies in blind studies.
To perform a skin test, we place tiny amounts of the suspected allergens on the end of our testing device. The device is then placed briefly on your skin, allowing the substance to barely prick the top layer of your skin without being injected under the skin. It feels like someone tapping your arm with a pen. For environmental allergies, we generally test all the pollens, molds, animal danders and insects that are known to cause symptoms in the Cincinnati area. For foods, we test to the most likely possible foods based on your evaluation by one of our board-certified allergists.
One of the tests we place on your arm is a substance called histamine. This substance will cause a small, raised, red area to appear at the test site. If you are allergic to any of the other substances tested, your body will make histamine as part of the local allergic response and you will develop a small, red, raised area at those sites within 10-15 minutes. Since the tests rely on the production of histamine, antihistamines will interfere with this test. Please avoid Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, Benadryl or other allergy medications for at least five days prior to coming in for testing.
Sometimes, a second stronger test is needed to determine all of your allergies. Either way, any redness or itching tends to improve over the next 30 minutes. If necessary, a steroid cream can be applied to soothe the reaction.
What Happens After Allergy Testing?
After the testing is complete, our allergists create a specific, tailored plan to help you with your allergies. These plans will focus on avoidance, appropriate medications, and if appropriate, immunotherapy (allergy shots) to help reduce your body’s reaction to the allergens.
To find out how allergy testing can get you on the road to recovery, make an appointment today at one of our four Cincinnati locations or our Richmond, Indiana location.