Yes, allergies are a pain – especially when you don’t know what you’re allergic to. Sometimes the itching, sneezing, and running nose symptoms are so bad; it seems as if you’re allergic to the whole world. If this describes you and you’ve tried to pinpoint what you’re allergic to with no success, you may need an allergy skin test.
If you’ve come to this conclusion but have been avoiding having an allergy skin test preformed because of fears that they are painful, never fear. Here are some facts to help ease your mind.
Types of Skin Testing for Allergies
There are two types of allergy skin tests: percutaneous method and intercutaneous method. This is a fancy way of saying that the allergens are introduced by pricking your skin or injecting it into several layers of skin. The needles used for this are very small and very fine and do not cause a large amount of discomfort.
With the percutaneous method, a drop of the allergen is placed on your skin and your skin is lightly pricked. When being tested for many allergens at once, this is often done with a cluster of needles that has had the allergen placed on each individual needle and then the needles are lightly pressed into the skin on your back or your forearm.
The intercutaneous method involves the allergen being injected below several layers of skin with a very fine needle. The intercutaneous method is more accurate, but the percutaneous method is used most often due to speed and convenience. If the allergy specialist needs to pinpoint a specific allergy, he will often us this method.
When you get your tests back, your specialist will look at the injection sites and measure the amount of reaction you had to each allergen. A response consists of a red, raised lump or your skin. The larger the size of the swelling, the more allergic you are to that allergen. To test positive to a particular allergen, the swelling has to measure 1/10th of an inch across.
Allergy skin test is very reliable and it is an easy way to find out exactly what you are allergic to. By knowing your exact allergens, your allergy specialist can then begin giving you allergy shots that will make you immune to the allergen. If you don’t want to take allergy shots, you will at least know what you are allergic to and can take steps to remove that allergen from your life.