If your child has been experiencing allergy symptoms, your doctor may recommend a skin test. Skin testing is the most common way to diagnose allergies. Here are how allergy skin tests work and the benefits of having your child take one.
What are allergy symptoms?
Allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Dry, scaly skin
Food allergies can manifest with these symptoms, but they can also produce a tickle in your throat, upset stomach, disrupted bowel movements, and even vomiting. Allergies can become life-threatening as well. If you notice your child having extreme difficulty breathing or if their throat begins to swell, this is a medical emergency, and you should call 911.
Why is an allergy skin test done?
Allergy skin testing is usually done when your child has symptoms that suggest they have an allergy but don't know what they're allergic to. Allergy skin testing can also help track the progression of allergies over time.
What is a skin test?
A skin test is a way for your doctor to determine if your child is allergic to a particular substance. A small amount of the allergen is placed on the child's skin, and then the skin is pricked. If your child is allergic to the substance, they will develop a raised, red bump at the site of the prick.
There are two types of skin tests: prick tests and intradermal tests. Prick tests are when the allergen is placed on the person's skin with a small, sterile needle. Intradermal tests are when the allergen is injected into the person's skin with a very fine needle. During either type of test, the doctor will make a small scratch on the person's skin with the needle, which allows the allergen to get under the person's skin so that the doctor can see if there is a reaction.
In children, allergy skin testing is usually done on the upper back because it is easy to see any reactions that occur. The allergist will then wait up to an hour to see if there are any redness, swelling, or bumps on the person's skin where they were pricked or injected.
In addition to testing for common allergies like grass, pollen, and dairy, the Mayo Clinic states that doctors will add histamine, glycerin, or saline to the skin allergy test. Saline and glycerin typically do not cause a reaction, while histamines cause a reaction in almost everyone. So if your child has a different reaction to either of those substances, something may be wrong with the testing procedure.
What are the benefits of allergy skin testing?
Allergy skin testing is quick, easy, and relatively painless. It is also one of the most accurate ways to diagnose allergies. Skin testing can be done with children as young as six months old.
Allergy skin testing is a reliable way for parents to figure out what their child is allergic to so that they can get the proper treatment. If your child has been experiencing allergy symptoms, ask your doctor if a skin test may be right for them.
For more information, contact a company such as Allergy and Asthma Care of Blakeney PLLC: Steven McEldowney, MD.