Skin Test for Allergy

  • Medical Author:
    Syed Shahzad Mustafa, MD

    After growing up in the Rochester area, Dr. Mustafa pursued his undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and attended medical school at SUNY Buffalo. He then completed his internal medicine training at the University of Colorado and stayed in Denver to complete his fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health, and Children's Hospital of Denver.

  • Medical Author: Allison Ramsey, MD
    Allison Ramsey, MD

    Dr. Allison Ramsey earned her undergraduate degree at Colgate University and her medical degree at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed her internal medicine training at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and remained at the university to complete her fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology. Dr. Ramsey is board certified in internal medicine and allergy and immunology. Her professional interests include the treatment of drug allergy and eosinophilic disorders. She also enjoys teaching medical trainees. She is a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the New York State Allergy Society, and the Finger Lakes Allergy Society. In her personal life, her interests include exercise, especially running and horseback riding; and spending time with her husband and two children.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Quick GuideCould I Be Allergic? Discover Your Allergy Triggers

Could I Be Allergic? Discover Your Allergy Triggers

What are the advantages of skin tests?

Skin tests are rapid, simple, and relatively safe. They can be very helpful in specifically identifying causes of allergies.

Is there danger to a skin test?

In very rare cases, patients may have a severe allergic reaction involving multiple body systems to skin testing. For this reason, skin testing should be completed by an experienced allergist who is well prepared to diagnose and treat a severe allergic reaction. Although both are safe, intradermal or intracutaneous skin testing is more likely to cause a severe allergic reaction compared to prick/puncture testing.

What is done if a skin test can't be done?

For these patients, a doctor may use special blood tests, such as the RAST and the ELISA. These tests measure the presence of specific types of IgE in the blood.

These tests may cost more than skin tests, and results are not available immediately. As with skin testing, positive RAST and ELISA tests do not by themselves necessarily make the final diagnosis.

REFERENCE:

Bernstein, et al. "Allergy Diagnostic Testing: an update practice parameter." Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology 100 (2008): S1-149.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2016

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