What’s the Best Form of Allergy Testing?

Allergies can cause minor inconveniences in your life or they may even prove to be life-threatening. When allergy symptoms -- like sneezing, watery eyes, or hives -- disrupt your life, it may give you peace of mind to know exactly what’s causing your issues. Allergy tests can shed light on your allergens, which are the substances you’re allergic to.

There are two common forms of allergy tests used at New Hope Medical Clinic: skin prick testing and blood work. Both tests are relatively easy and can be effective at determining the source of your allergies. These tests can even help identify allergies you didn’t know you had.

Which allergy test is right for me?

Allergy symptoms are your body’s overreaction to irritants or allergens like mold, grass, dust, or pet dander. To determine which allergy test best suit your needs, you have to understand how each works.

Skin prick testing

This in-office test involves pricks of your skin that expose you to individual allergens. Often the skin on your back or your arm is used for testing. Your doctor or nurse pricks your skin, then applies a drop of potential allergen on each specific skin prick.

Within a few minutes, you may begin to experience a reaction to certain allergens. Your skin may become red, feel itchy, or start to swell. These signs indicate a positive reaction to an allergen. Some allergic reactions may take longer than others, so the medical team will wait 20-30 minutes for full results.

In a second kind of skin test, the suspected allergens may be injected under your skin, and then observed to see if you have a reaction.

Blood testing

Blood testing is a common way to test for allergies by measuring the antibodies in your blood that relate to a particular allergen. The higher level of the IgE antibody, the more likely you are to be allergic to that specific food or other substance.

Which test is the better choice?

There are differences between each of the testing methods that can help you and your doctor determine which is the right one for you.

In skin prick testing, you get results right away. It can take lab work several days to come back before you know more about your allergies. If cost is a concern, skin prick tests are less expensive than blood work.

With blood testing, it’s just a blood draw, so there’s no risk of having a severe allergic reaction. You aren’t exposed to the allergens that can trigger reactions. If you’re aware of severe allergies that can put you in anaphylactic shock, you shouldn’t use the skin prick testing method. Skin prick testing is also not recommended if you have asthma or unstable heart disease.

In order for skin prick tests to work, you have to discontinue your antihistamine medications beforehand. If your symptoms would be too bothersome without taking antihistamines for several days leading up to an allergy test, the blood test may work better for you.

While there are a variety of factors that can influence your decision, if it’s safe for you, the New Hope Medical Clinic may recommend skin testing over blood work. That’s because skin tests offer reliable, quick results that can help you better understand your allergies and get started on treatment right away.

With reliable results and easy test procedures, you can learn a lot about the allergies affecting your health. Call our office to schedule a consultation to discuss allergy testing, or click to book here on the website.

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