Allergies burden over 50 million people in the United States, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. While some allergies are easier to figure out than others, there are times when allergy testing is necessary to determine the cause.
There are two main allergy tests:
- Skin testing: During a skin test, a doctor will prick the surface of the skin, either on the back or on the forearm, with a variety of suspected allergens. If you are allergic to any of the tested specimens, your skin will react with symptoms such as redness, itching, and/or swelling. Skin tests deliver fast results and are more cost effective than having bloodwork done. It’s important to make sure you receive a skin allergy test by an experienced professional, and note that there are some medications that could interfere with the test. Please be sure to notify your doctor of any medications you are currently taking before proceeding with your skin test.
- Blood testing: There are a variety of blood tests available that test different kinds of allergies, e.g, foods, mold, chemicals, medicine, etc. Unlike skin tests, where multiple pricks are infringed upon the skin, blood tests involve one prick. However, results take longer to come back because they must be sent to a lab to evaluate. Blood tests are reserved for those who are taking medication that could potentially interfere with skin testing, are suffering from a severe skin condition, or there is potential for a strong or dangerous reaction to occur if testing with a strong allergen.
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