What is Allergy Testing?

Think you may have an allergy to something, but don't know what exactly? An allergist can help you figure it out by performing an allergy test. There are several types of allergy tests:

1. Skin Test: This is the most common allergy test. The prick-puncture test involves placement of a small amount of suspected allergy-causing substances (allergens) on the skin (usually the forearm, upper arm, or the back), and then pricking the skin so that the allergen is introduced under the skin surface. The skin is observed closely for signs of a reaction, usually swelling and redness of the site. Results are usually obtained within about 15-20 minutes, and several suspected allergens can be tested at the same time.

2. Blood Test: This test involves drawing blood to test for allergens. Unlike the skin test, you don't get the results immediately. However, this test is helpful when skin testing cannot/shouldn't be performed.

3. Challenge Test: This test involves inhaling or eating a very small amount of an allergen, under the supervision of an allergist. This test is very useful in the diagnosis of food and drug allergies.