Allergy tests: what are the different types?

allergy tests

Allergy tests: what are the different types?

Allergies are probably more common than you think. And what you don’t want to do is just live with it. Sure, it might just be a little inconvenient, but they can also be deadly in the worst-case scenarios. That’s why we always like to stress the importance of having your potential allergies tested.

But there are different types and certain allergy tests are better suited for certain people. Some tests can’t even be used to identify certain allergies. There are many ways to get tested for allergies, but which test does what? And how long do results take to come in?

Skin tests

There are a few methods for allergy testing on the skin, including intradermal, patch, and prick testing. 

Patch tests just involve putting a patch of potential allergens on the skin. These tests tend to take longer though, with you having to wait 48 hours until the doctor assesses the reaction.

Also called a scratch test, skin prick testing (SPT) is done by placing solutions containing potential allergens on the skin. One of the most common allergy tests, SPTs are very safe and generally don’t hurt, but can be a bit uncomfortable. But they have been known to show “false-positives”. About 50-60% of these tests show an allergy when, in reality, you might not. Despite this, they could still be very useful in the hands of a good allergy specialist. SPTs are straightforward and results are ready in about 15 minutes.

Intradermal testing is similar, only the allergen solution is placed under the surface skin instead of on the surface. The intradermal test tends to be more sensitive than the SPT and can provide more consistent results. Like SPTs, the test results are ready in 15 minutes and have been known to sometimes indicate an allergic reaction when there isn’t one.

Blood/RAST

Blood tests are often done alongside skin tests, but can also be used when skin tests aren’t appropriate. Introducing allergens to the body can be dangerous for those with asthma or those at risk of experiencing life-threatening anaphylaxis. A blood test eliminates this risk which is why they’re often considered safer.

A bit more invasive, blood tests draw your blood, which can be used to check for multiple allergens. Blood tests can also be a good option for those with skin problems like eczema, which could be complicated by an SPT. Unfortunately, blood results can take up to 2 weeks to come in.

There are many ways to get tested for a suspected allergy, and one test may be more suited for you than others. If you find yourself suffering from what appears to be an allergic reaction, be sure to contact an allergy specialist for their recommended course of action.

At Allergy Clinic London, we have multiple tests available to help you identify and control your allergies. To talk to someone about your allergies, contact us on 02031 433 449.

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