An allergy skin test is simply done to work out what allergies a patient has. It can be conducted in several ways, each of which involves subjecting a small area of skin to a minute amount of the allergy-inducing substance, causing a controlled local allergic reaction, usually in the form of a hive (a wheal and flare). From this information, the Allergist will be able to understand what allergies a patient is likely to have and recommend a suitable solution and treatment.
Skin scratch (or prick) test
The scratch test is conducted by scratching a series of substances just underneath the surface of the skin using a small allergy scratch device. Typically, this is done on the back or forearm. The test can cause some extremely mild discomfort (usually in the form of itch) from the scratches but gives immediate results, highlighting what substances trigger the patient’s allergy. The bumps (wheals) and redness (flares) are measured and recorded for interpretation by the Allergist, who compares the measurements of the potential allergens to those of the negative and positive controls and the test is interpreted by the Allergist. This test determines immediate type allergy (because the results, like the typical clinical response is rapid).
The results include a list of likely allergens and may help predict likelihood that they are triggering the reaction as well as the relative severity of the reaction. The test does not describe the symptoms caused by the various allergens. For example, one allergen may cause eye itching, another may cause hives on contact, and yet another may cause a flare of asthma. The greatest value of the skin test is determining whether or not you are allergic. If you are allergic, it is of great value to know the pollen seasons that may apply to you now or in the future. If it is negative, the skin test is also of great value because, in that case, avoidance is not necessary and allergy medication is not truly addressing the problem and is only causing side effects. Long term, antihistamines can have effects on memory, sleep, and increase the risk of dementia to name a few.
One of the primary roles of an Allergist is to make recommendations on overcoming allergies. This may include:
Avoidance: This simply means minimizing exposure to the trigger allergen. Environmental avoidance may include showering and rinsing target organs to remove pollen, adding an air purifier to the environment, taking shoes off on entering the home, and changing air filters in the home regularly.
Some allergies can be overcome with medications, such as antihistamines. To be a good candidate for medications, there must be some desire to be dependent on medications as the symptoms will only be masked but medications cannot cause allergies to resolve. As well, there must be knowledge of the short- and long-term side effects of medications.
Immunotherapy is a course of injections to help manage and minimize symptoms caused by allergies over time. It is used to make these symptoms more manageable and for some patients, avoid the side effects of medications. It is extremely effective at reducing allergy symptoms and decreasing dependence on medications.
If you would like to be tested for your allergies or believe you might be a good candidate for allergen immunotherapy, Dr. Wendt and her staff at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives would love to help.
Relieve Allergy Asthma & Hives is located near Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter, DC Ranch and Grayhawk at 21803 N. Scottsdale Road Ste. 200, on the corners of Deer Valley and Scottsdale Roads, and has convenient evening and early morning hours to accommodate your schedule.
Dr. Wendt is also available for telemedicine appointments as appropriate. Insurance plans accepted. Call 480-500-1902 today to schedule an appointment and begin your allergy testing and treatment with Dr. Wendt at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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