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Skin Test

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You may heard about various skin tests where the skin is pricked or scratched and different allergens are placed on this skin, usually the forearm, upper arm, or the back, to see how the body will react to the allergens without causing too many effects to the rest of the body as the allergen used is only microscopic. Even though this is the case, the scrape test is preferred to the scratch test as the scrap only affects the superficial layer of the skin where the scratch test enters in deeper in the derma layer.

...most commonly you will get a hives or a rash if a reaction occurs.

These tests are included in the below list where a person having a skin allergy test may be required to do a variation of the following:

  • Skin prick test: needling the skin with a needle or pin containing a small trace of allergen.
  • Skin scratch test: using the blunt end of a needle to administer a deep dermic scratch.
  • Intradermic test: a microscopic amount of allergen injected beneath the dermis using a hypodermic syringe.
  • Skin scrape test: the skin is scraped with a needle to remove the top layer of the epidermis.
  • Patch test: applying a patch containing allergen to the skin

In the event that any of these tests make your skin red and lumpy, it means you have tested to positive as having an allergy to that particular substance. If you have a severe allergy, this may also bring on anaphylaxis otherwise most commonly you will get a hives or a rash if a reaction occurs. If a test is negative it does not necessarily mean you are not allergic as sometimes the dose of the substance that you are allergic to may usually be higher in the doses you have in your system so it can be trial and error to get these tests right sometimes.

Some of the allergies most commonly tested for are pet, bees, pollen, foods, dust mites or drugs such as penicillin. The skin test allows up to 40 allergens to be tested on the skin all at once and two other substances always added are Histamine and Glycerin. If you react to either of these the results may have to be looked at more carefully as no reaction to Histamine could mean an allergy may not be revealed even though you still have one and a Glycerin reaction may mean you have sensitive skin as most people do not react to Glycerin. A result for a skin test usually shows on the skin in around 15 minutes.

At a clinic, the physician or nurse will also measure any bumps that rise from the testing point and also record any other observations of the skin such as rashes. A patch skin test is left on for longer, some 48 hours and usually shows if you have a skin allergy to materials such as latex, medications or cosmetics. Severe allergic reactions are tested more carefully with even more dilute solutions in case of anaphylaxis for instance testing for peanut allergies and sometimes the dose administered via an intradermal test will be gradually increased to confirm this allergy.

If you believe you may have an allergy to something environmental, a skin test is extremely helpful in diagnosing just what’s bugging you!

Skin Test

Skin prick tests are almost exclusively used in allergy testing as the advantages are that the skin can show specific reactions to trace allergens placed on the skin site. The result are instant and patients tolerate the tests well. It is also very low cost to perform these procedures. Of course it is open to interpretation of a trained health professional which should be routine and observed with experience and the right information on hand. The skin prick tests are not for food allergies but usually for drug and venom allergies. Skin prick tests can cause anaphylaxis if the patient is allergic so only a trained specialist should perform this kind of test. Here is some more reading and some resources to help you find out more.


Allergy Skin Testing: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergy-testing.aspx

Allergy Testing for Children: https://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=19&cont=253

Skin testing for Tuberculosis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK369/