Allergy testing - skin

Allergy Testing - Skin

Skin testing is a simple and helpful procedure for the detection and evaluation of allergy. It helps to identify substances which may cause an allergic reaction for a patient. Skin testing is used to establish the presence of any type of allergy, be it food, pollen, dusts, animal products or drugs. Skin testing has become a very popular method for diagnosing as well as treating allergies and it provides a very accurate assessment about the allergies and sensitivity levels of the individual.


Before undergoing the test, it is important to take proper preparation. The doctor needs to know the medical history including symptoms and reactions to medicines or foods. Patients will normally need to stop antihistamines a few days before the test. The doctor may recommend any special instructions that needs to be followed before the test such as refraining from applying any lotions or creams before the test or avoiding eating or drinking particular foods prior to the test.


Skin testing involves the following steps: (1) A tiny amount of suspected allergens are applied to the skin using a needleprick or a patch. (2) The allergens are applied on the back or arm. (3) The doctor will then inpect the results for any reacting signs or symptoms. The doctor will look for redness, swelling, or itching. (4) After 15-20 minutes the doctor will check the results and note any potential reactions.

Types of Skin Tests

The two most common types of skin tests are the prick test and the intradermal test.

  • Prick Test - In this test, the allergens are applied with the help of a small plastic device which contains a series of needles. It is an outpatient procedure and is done for food, inhalant and some medicines.
  • Intradermal Test - In this test, the allergens are injected inside the skin using very small needles. It is used to detect allergies to insect venom or medicines.


The skin test is very safe. However, there are some risks associated with it such as swelling, itching, inflammation and in some rare cases, anaphylaxis.

Why Skin Testing?

Skin testing is used to accurately identify the substances causing allergic reactions. It is also used to assess the severity of the allergies. It helps in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies.

When to Get Skin Test?

It is recommended to get skin test done when the individual has symptoms of allergies such as itching, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal congestion. It is also useful in monitoring the progression of allergies and reactions to the treatments.