Allergy testing is needed when a patient has consistent and significant issues with allergies. The only way to truly treat an allergy effectively is to identify its source. Allergy testing can clearly identify the reason for the allergic issues, which will allow the doctor to prescribe an effective treatment regimen.
The skin prick test is also called the intradermal skin test. Tiny punctures are made in the forearm for this test using a new lancet for every puncture. Next to each small puncture, a tiny drop of a known allergen will be placed. This test typically looks for reactions to common allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites, grass, and pet dander. For patients who are suspected of having an allergy that is not included in the standard skin prick test, the doctor may create a custom skin prick test. This type of test can look for things like specific drug allergies or less common food allergies that are not typically tested for.
The patch test is done to determine why a patient is having contact dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction of the skin. A patch test is done via application of patches that contain potential allergens. Multiple patches are typically used during a patch test, with each containing a separate allergen. Most patch tests include the application of 20 or more small patches. Some of the allergens that are commonly tested for include latex, artificial preservatives, hair dye, metal, resin, and different fragrances. The patches are typically worn either on the arm or on the back for a two-day period. When the doctor removes the patches, they will evaluate each test site for reactions that indicate an allergy. Once the skin allergy is identified, a treatment plan targeted for that specific substance can be created.
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