Suffering an allergic reaction to anything can make you feel like you’ve been run over. Even worse, your response may be so severe that you run the risk of real danger to your life. If you were born with these allergies, your parents might have already had you tested as a child. What happens as you age and start developing these reactions to things? If you suspect that you may be having adverse reactions to triggers in the environment or food, a doctor may suggest skin testing. Follow along to find out three basic facts about these tests and their implications.
1. Exposure to Possible Irritants
The purpose of a skin test is to find out what is causing you to have an adverse reaction. During a skin test, a doctor introduces possible irritants to your skin and documents any changes that may occur. The area of the skin is marked to designate which allergen was placed where. The doctor may introduce many allergens at a time, making the process a quicker way of identifying what is inducing the body to react than other methods.
2. The Type of Skin Testing Available
The doctor will use your medical history and description of how you feel to determine what to test for at a time. Since it is possible to become allergic to almost anything, there are some common culprits that doctors like to try first. Food and environmental allergies are regularly tested in people who have a history of gastrointestinal symptoms, respiratory issues and skin changes. The most common irritants skin tests target are:
- Environmental elements such as pollen, dust, grass, pet dander
- Food ingredients like lactose, gluten, wheat, grains
- Medications like penicillin
Some of the most intense and deadly allergies involve peanuts, shellfish and bee stings. If a person has an allergy to one of these, they may need to carry an epinephrine pen to counteract possible anaphylactic shock if exposed.
3. The Accuracy of Skin Tests for Allergies
Skin testing is the most accurate way to identify allergens, but they don’t always get it right. About half the time, an allergen may not indicate a reaction, but when introduced internally, it does. Many of the particles that the immune system identifies as dangerous are already inside the body, not on the surface. Therefore, things like ragweed and pollen are inhaled and enter through the nose before the body starts producing mucus and other unpleasant reactions. Therefore, be mindful that a positive or negative test may not be the end-all, be-all diagnosis you seek.