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What is a skin test for allergy?
This is a test done on the skin to identify the allergy substance
(the allergen) that is the trigger for an allergic reaction. It will take about 5-10 minutes to place
and 15-20 minutes for the results to be ready. How is an allergy skin test done?
A small amount of the suspected allergy-provoking substance
(the allergen) is placed on the skin (back or forearm). The skin is then gently scratched through
the small drop with a special sterile needle. If this is negative, a more sensitive test is performed,
using a small needle to place the allergen in the second layer of the skin (dermis), like a PPD. What is a positive skin test?
If the skin reddens and, more importantly, if it swells, then the test
is read as positive and allergy to that substance is considered probable. It implies that the patient
has a type of antibody (IgE antibody) on specialized cells in the skin that release histamine to
cause redness and itching. If there is no reaction, it is read as negative. What are the advantages of skin tests?
Skin tests are rapid, simple, relatively safe, and less
expensive than blood tests. They can be very helpful in specifically identifying causes of
allergies. Does the Test Hurt?
The test may be mildly irritating, but most people say it doesn't hurt too
Is the Test Safe?
Although small amounts of allergens are introduced into your system, a skin
test is safe when performed properly. Systemic (whole body) reactions to skin testing are
extremely rare. What Happens After the Test?
Any extracts and ink marks will be cleaned off your skin with
alcohol. Redness and swelling should resolve within 24 hours.
SKIN TESTING INSTRUCTIONS: If you have any questions whether or not you are using an
antihistamine, please ask the nurse or the doctor.
No over-the-counter antihistamines for 3-4 days
prior to the scheduled skin testing. These
include cold tablets, sinus tablets, hay fever medications, or oral treatments for itchy skin. Some of the
names include Tylenol PM
or Advil PM
, Actifed, Alavert, Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, Claritin
(loratidine), Drixoral, Deconamine, Dimetapp, Dristan, Naldecon, Periactin, Phenergan, Rondec,
Rynatan, Tavist, Triaminic, Trinalin, Nyquil, and others. Decongestants
: Afrin or Sudafed – do not take on skin testing day.
No prescription antihistamines for 7 days
prior to skin testing: fexofenadine (Allegra), AlleRx,
desloratadine (Clarinex), cetirizine (Zyrtec), levocetirizine (Xyzal), hydroxyzine, cyprohepatidine.
Other antihistamines stop for 4 days
: Astelin nasal spray, Optivar/ Patanol/Pataday eye drops.
Stop two weeks
before testing: Over-the-counter sleep medicines
(e.g., Nytol) and
, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), hydroxyzine (Atarax), doxepin (Sinequan),
imipramine (Tofranil), Remeron . Please make the prescribing doctor aware that you need to stop
these medications so they may advise you if it is safe to discontinue them.
Blood Pressure medications such as Beta blockers
, Atenolol, Inderal, Propranolol, Toprol,
Betapace etc. - do not take on day of skin testing
CONTINUE AS PRESCRIBED:
Asthma medications DO NOT interfere with skin testing and
should be continued. Continue intranasal sprays except Astelin(4 days) and Afrin(1 day)
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