Allergy testing is used by NY allergists to determine what substances are causing a patient’s allergic reactions. There are many times of allergy tests available.
Skin prick testing is the most common method of allergy testing. During this test, the skin is slightly pricked while a small drop of allergen is exposed to the skin for about 15-20 minutes. Your NYC allergy doctor will then monitor the skin for signs of an allergic reaction, including redness and swelling. You can expect to experience some discomfort when your skin is being pricked, and also some itchiness while the allergens are allowed to react. This test is usually done to identify allergies to pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and foods.
Skin prick tests are generally safe for adults and children. However, this test is not recommended for people with skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis.
Intradermal testing is similar to skin prick testing, the major difference being that the allergen is injected under the skin to form a small bubble. The purpose of the test is to find out if a patient has specific IgE against an allergen, which is an antibody involved in an allergic reaction. If you are familiar with the test used for tuberculosis, it is the same type of injection. Intradermal testing can be more sensitive than skin prick testing. Positive results cause itching that lasts 20-30 minutes. Intradermal testing is mostly used for testing an insect sting allergy.
Patch testing is used for allergic reactions on your skin. For example, if you develop a rash after using a new shampoo or wearing a new piece of jewelry. During the patch test, a substance is placed on a patch that is then applied to your skin. Positive reactions can be immediate or delayed. So our allergists will leave the patch on for about two days to see if you have any allergic reactions. We will also ask you to return later in the week to check for any delayed reactions.
Blood testing may be recommended by your NYC allergy specialist to measure the antibodies present in your blood. One common blood test in the field of allergy measures Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is an antibody that your immune system develops in reaction to a specific allergen. Other relevant blood tests include radioallergosorbent testing (RAST), eosiniphil counts, or immunoassay capture test (ImmunoCAP).
This test is best used for those will skin conditions that cannot complete a skin prick or patch test. Allergy blood tests usually test for ten of the most common allergy triggers, including dust, pet dander, trees, grasses, weeds, and molds. It can also detect food allergies.
Elimination testing is when an allergist asks you to avoid a suspected allergen to see if your symptoms improve. This could mean eliminating a specific food from your diet, or just changing the laundry detergent you use. During this test, you may be asked to keep a journal to document any changes. Elimination testing works best with food sensitivities.
Provocation testing (also called a “challenge”) is essentially the opposite of elimination testing. In this case, the allergist will expose you to a suspected allergen in a safe, clinical setting and observe your reactions. This test is sometimes used to confirm (or disprove) a food or medication allergy (penicillin or peanuts, for example). This challenge should never be done at home. It poses severe risks and possibly life threatening reactions. A board certified allergist will have allergy medication on hand and ensure your safety.
If you have questions about allergy testing, the allergy specialists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers want to help. Our physicians can determine what allergy testing you need. We will also develop a treatment plan to alleviate your allergy symptoms and help you get back to normal. We offer convenient clinics throughout NYC: Murray Hill, Midtown, Upper West Side, Chelsea, and Queens. We can even help you find relief for your asthma, nasal and sinus problems, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) symptoms, respiratory allergies, & skin conditions. We see both pediatric and adult patients. Call 212-686-4448 to book your appointment.