Allergies develop when your immune system mistakenly launches an attack against a substance that is not normally harmful to humans (allergens). Some common allergens include things like:
When someone with allergies encounters an allergen, they can quickly develop symptoms like skin rash, runny nose, itching, swelling, and even breathing difficulties. Allergy testing allows you to determine exactly what is causing your reaction.
Skin testing is a common type of allergy testing, and is simple and straightforward. On the day of your visit, your practitioner cleans your skin before placing a drop of one specific (and highly diluted) allergen on your skin. A special tool creates a tiny scratch to allow the allergen to penetrate. This process is repeated multiple times with different allergens.
After a period of 15 minutes, the sites are checked. If your body responded to the allergen with a red, raised bump that looks like a bug bite, you are likely allergic to that specific substance.
Additional allergy test options include skin injections and patch testing. Your practitioner will discuss the best option for you during your visit.
Allergy testing requires little in the way of advance preparation. The most important thing you can do to get ready for your test is to create a thorough list of any medications you’re taking. Certain drugs can interfere with skin testing, including:
You’ll also provide a full personal and family health history, which helps your provider narrow down the potential causes of your symptoms.
Once you have the results of your allergy testing, you’ll have the information you need to determine your next steps. In some cases, allergic reactions are confined to just one or two substances. If those substances are easy to avoid in day-to-day life, treatment might not be necessary.
Some people find lasting relief from allergies through immunotherapy, a process that exposes your immune system to minute quantities of allergens over a long period of time. This therapy allows your immune system to slowly develop a tolerance for those allergens, reducing the risk of reaction when you encounter the allergen in full strength.
There are also a range of medications that can help treat allergies. Your practitioner works closely with you to determine the right treatment for your needs. When you’re ready to begin, call or click to schedule your visit.