Sneezing, an itchy nose and red, watery eyes are just a few symptoms that torment the millions of Americans living with allergies. You may have experienced these symptoms and tried different over-the-counter allergy medicines without success. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s a good idea to partner with a professional to find the root cause of your allergies. Doing so will help guide treatment and help you get much-needed relief. Learn why skin testing is an important part of diagnosing your allergies.
What is skin testing?
Skin testing at Allergy Asthma & Immunology Institute is used to determine the exact cause of your symptoms. We can assure you that there is nothing to fear. Skin testing is safe, pain-free and effective. When you’re suffering from symptoms that suggest you may have an allergy, scheduling an appointment with an allergist is one of the best steps you can take toward getting your allergies under control and alleviating your symptoms.
What does skin allergy testing involve?
Skin allergy testing helps determine your sensitivity to particular allergens. Your provider will choose specific allergens to test you for depending on a number of factors, including your symptoms and information about the environment where your symptoms occur. A skin allergy test can be done for food, outdoor allergens, indoor allergens, insects, and certain medications.
What can I expect from skin allergy testing?
Commonly called a skin prick test, skin testing involves exposing you to suspected allergens and watching for an allergic reaction. Skin tests are generally safe for children and adults. However, it’s important to tell your doctor if you’ve ever had a severe or life-threatening reaction to a substance. This may mean that exposure to even a tiny amount may prove unsafe.
During a skin allergy test, your doctor will prick your skin with a tiny amount of different allergens and observe you for a reaction. Your provider may use up to 40 different substances. After pricking your skin with the suspected allergens, your doctor watches for red raised bumps to develop.
Such bumps are a good indication that your body is responding to the presence of the allergen with an antibody against that substance. Keep in mind that providers don’t rely on skin tests alone to diagnose allergies. Your provider will use your medical history, symptoms, and other information to confirm an allergy diagnosis.
What if my skin doesn’t react?
If after 15 minutes you don’t experience a reaction to a suspected allergen, there’s a good chance that you aren’t allergic to that specific substance. A non-reactive skin test alone doesn’t exclude the possibility of being allergic to a substance. Your doctor may order additional testing to know for sure whether or not you are allergic to something you eat or something in your environment.
What are common allergens?
Allergies to substances in the environment are extremely common. The substances that commonly cause symptoms in susceptible people include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Tree pollen
- Grass pollen
- Weed pollen
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts
Getting relief from allergies
Avoiding the offending substance is a cornerstone of treating allergies. Visiting a specialist is the only way to know for sure to what you’re allergic. It’s vital to read labels and take precautions when dining out if your doctor confirms a food allergy. It isn’t always possible to avoid certain outdoor and indoor allergens. Your doctor will guide you in reducing your exposure. Medications such as antihistamines and steroids can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
You can also discuss immunotherapy with your provider. This involves exposing you to a gradual, but increasing, amount of the substance to which you’re allergic. This eventually teaches your immune system to tolerate the substance, providing long-term allergy relief.
It’s possible to get relief from allergies. To learn more about allergy testing and treatment at the Allergy Asthma & Immunology Institute call our Leesburg, Virginia office to schedule an appointment, or use our convenient online booking form. We have a brand new beautiful, state-of-the-art office at the same location, now in suite 207.