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July 12, 2017 • Allergy and Immunology
There are all kinds of allergies out there, and to help make them easier to identify, your doctor might suggest allergy testing. Most doctors use skin tests because they’re less expensive than blood tests and are quick and reliable, but both kinds of tests might be used at various times.
There are three types of skin tests:
The most common type of blood test is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA, EIA), which measures the blood level of antibodies that the body makes in response to certain allergens. Other testing include radioallergosorbent testing (RAST) or an immunoassay capture test (ImmunoCAP).
The primary purpose of allergy tests is to determine which allergens might cause an allergic reaction in a given person. The skin prick test can also:
Cases where a blood test might be done instead of a skin prick test include:
While preparing for a skin test, ask your doctor about any medications you may need to stop taking or any other concerns you may have. For a skin prick or intradermal test, your doctor will:
Both of these tests should take under an hour. In cases of skin patch tests, bandages are placed on the skin (typically the back), then left for 24 to 72 hours—a period during which you should not shower, bathe or do any activities that might make you sweat excessively. After your set period of time, your doctor will remove the patches and check for allergic reactions.
If you are getting a blood test, your doctor will:
Risks and side effects for skin tests may include:
Risks of a blood test are generally very minor, and include:
A skin test will usually have results available immediately after the test. Blood tests look for substances called antibodies, which signal allergen reactions. These results are usually available within about 7 days.
If you’re considering allergy testing, speak to your doctor about the right option for you.
“Allergy Tests.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests#1
“Allergy Testing.” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergy-testing
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.