What To Expect During Your Allergy Testing Appointment

If you're tired of struggling with allergies, one of the smartest steps you can take is to make an appointment for allergy testing. During this appointment, your allergist will test you for various allergens to determine exactly that you're allergic to. With this knowledge, you'll have an easier time avoiding your allergens so you can ultimately avoid symptoms. But what should you expect during an allergy testing appointment? Take a look.

1. You'll prepare by discontinuing any allergy medications for a few days.

If you are taking any over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications, your allergist will likely request that you stop taking them about a week before your testing appointment. You would not want the effects of the antihistamine medications to mask any reaction you might have to certain allergens during the test — this would make the results harder to interpret. If your allergy symptoms are severe, such as if they cause asthma, your doctor may recommend a nasal or inhaled steroid for you to take when your symptoms start to act up. This should not interfere with the test.

2. Various allergens will be applied to your skin.

In most cases, the type of test the allergist will run is called a skin patch or skin scratch test. Basically, a grid will be drawn in your back (with a marker or the like.) A different allergen will be rubbed on or pricked into each square in the grid. This should only cause mild irritation or pain. In the squares where something you're allergic to has been applied, you will get some itchiness and redness. Your doctor will "read" the grid to determine which substances you're allergic to, and which you are not allergic to. They'll also note the level of response. For instance, if ragweed pollen only makes your skin slightly pink, that would mean you're mildly allergic. If grass pollen makes the square swollen and weepy, you might be highly allergic.

3. You'll be given treatment options as a follow-up.

In most cases, your doctor will follow up with you regarding treatment options immediately after reading your skin prick test. Knowing what you're allergic to and how severe your allergy is will allow them to more effectively prescribe medications that help ease your symptoms. They can also give you advice for avoiding your specific allergens.

Skin prick testing is not exactly fun, but it's quite safe and a good way to find out what you're allergic to. Contact your doctor with any additional questions. 

To learn more information, reach out to an allergen testing service near you.