Why skin test?
If you want to know what you are allergic to – ask for a skin test. Because this is ‘golden standard’ allergy testing. Even if you think you are allergic to the cat leaking you or to the nut in the ice cream – still you need a skin test. The only time you cannot have it is if you had a severe and life-threatening reaction. Then it will be dangerous even to put a tiny drop of the substance on your skin. You may still have a systemic reaction.
Are there blood tests for allergy?
Yes. There are two types of laboratory tests that may suggest you have certain allergies. Even then, to be absolutely sure you will need a skin prick test. Laboratory tests have limitations. If your total IgE (an allergy molecule measured in a blood sample) is extremely high then the test may have many positive “false” results as the testing wells can get “jammed” with too much substance.
Also if the total IgE your body produces is too low the test will not show your positive as there is not enough substance to check.
The ELISA technology also has other problems. For example if the technician did not use the right blood collection tube or storage temperature was wrong. Then the whole test is all positive or all negative. As you can see you may get result that you are allergic to the horse while truly you are allergic to the mouse!
While we always prefer skin test to any other available laboratory tests, sometimes it is necessary to do blood test instead. Your doctor will discuss your options during appointment.
Can my child be tested for allergies?
We use the most expensive prick devices because they do not hurt. For kids we have DVDs, toys and books that distract from the test, and then – nice toys from a treasure chest and juice-only organic lolly-pops – only nice things to remember and NO tears!We usually test children older then 6 month in the presence of at least one parent. There is no age limit for adults. We limit test panels to 1.5 years old or 30 lb for kids and no limits for adults. Also during the spring we may not perform any testing due to high pollen (or limit the number of pricks).
We can test you to almost everything!
Standard serums are high quality and pure. Each tested has only one protein. At the same time if you want to test a food from a restaurant you suspect – we can do that with prick-prick technique. As long as we can have a tiny piece we can make a tester by diluting it with glycerin. Our nurses are very skillful and can do miracles! Just pack that food in a ziploc bag and write the name of the substance you want to test. As you can see nothing is impossible.
Standard skin prick test is done by simple scratching of the surface of your skin by small plastic device. If the test is positive you will develop minor local itching, area of redness and skin bump – we measure skin changes to know how significant your allergy is. We use almost painless plastic prick devices, for kids we use multi-pricks (up to 8 tests at one time!) All test takes about 45 minutes. If you will be itchy (well, that is part of the test) we will help you right away. We can spray the skin with Benadryl spray and give you antihistamine tablets. You do not need to lay down – instead you can sit comfortably and read favorite book.
What if I take medications? Can I still do the test?
If you likely to be tested you cannot take certain medications for 5 days ANY anti-allergy pills or syrup:
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl and Generics)
Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-trimeton and Cold Medicines)
Brompheniramine (Dimetane and Generics)
Loratidine (Claritin) or Desloratidine (Clarinex)
Azelastin HCl (Astelin)
Cetirizine (Zyrtec) or Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
You should continue taking asthma medications, nasal sprays, and any other medication prescribed for other health conditions. Please tell us if you are taking oral or shot steroids of any kind.