What is involved in a skin prick test?
Testing for allergy is done using the skin prick test, an ideal test standard. The method is straightforward. Your skin is pricked, a tiny amount of substance is placed inside, and a reaction is expected. Should you react to the substance, you’ll notice a red raised lump that may itch seriously on the injection site.
What is an allergen?
As the name implies, this is anything that makes an allergic reaction happen. The immune system quickly acts during a skin prick test where an allergen is buried beneath your skin. This it does by releasing antibodies to defend your body against a perceived foreign substance.
As the reaction between the allergen and antibodies takes place, the allergen may stick to a specific antibody and cause chemicals like histamine to be released. Reaction to an allergen called an allergic reaction is influenced by histamine. Several activities take place within your body at this point:
- Your blood vessels enlarge, and with increased porosity
- Fluid is let out of your blood vessel leading to swelling and reddish discolouration
- More amount of mucus is produced, causing a runny nose, teary eyes and congestion
- There is a stimulation of the nerve endings triggering hives, rash or itching
- Increased acid production by the stomach
Where the case is serious, these other occurrences may be seen:
- Reduction in your blood pressure as blood vessels are enlarged
- Shortness of breath as a result of narrowing bronchial tubes and swollen airways
Expectations during skin prick test
You and your doctor will talk before getting a skin prick test. The discussion will be cover symptoms you’re experiencing, your medical history, and the possible things that launch your allergic reaction. With these details, the doctor can come up with a better choice of what allergens to use during the test procedure. As few as 4 substances and as many as 40 may be used for your testing.
Typically, this test is carried out on the patient’s back or forearmby a nurse. The doctor reviews your reaction to the allergen. Usually, under 30 minutes, the test and results interpretation is completed; however, the duration comes down to how many allergens are used for the test.
Getting ready to get a skin prick test
The doctor will like to know pretty much about your allergies: how and when they appear, what sets them off and the way your body reacts in return. So it would help if you told them as much as you know.
Before taking the test, avoid the use of antihistamines. Tell your allergist the usual antihistamines you take. It may become necessary for you to discontinue the medication for 7 days though it comes down to its working. You need also to stop taking other medications containing antihistamines as well.
It is important to remember that other medications may affect the test outcome. Based on this, you need to talk with your allergist to know if you’ll need to stop usage for sometime before the testing takes place. When the test day finally arrives, please don’t rub lotion or wear perfume on the site of the skin to be tested.
From the result of a skin prick test in London, it may be obvious you react to an allergen; however, symptoms of that allergy may not be present in your body. Results can also come out as false positive or false negative. The danger of a false-negative test result is that your potential allergenic substance won’t be identified, and you may not be aware of using it.
An allergy test is good as detecting the substances that activate your allergies gives you and your doctor a good understanding of what treatment plan can give your symptoms some relief.
How is the test done?
The procedure is quite simple, but a specialist must perform the test. So,
- It begins with cleaning the skin site that will receive the test with alcohol. This is like disinfecting the area
- The nurse will mark different sites on your skin which will be used to monitor the varying allergens that will be administered and your skin reaction to them
- On the marked skin site, the test giver will drop a little of the allergen
- As the nurse place the allergen, they will gently prick your skin so a small quantity of it will flow inside. It may be quite painful for some persons when they feel the prick, but it typically doesn’t cause any discomfort
- That marks the end of the allergen application. The next thing you should wait for is your body’s reaction. This typically happens between 15 to 20 minutes. In a case where you react to an allergen, a bump will appear on the site looking red and itchy. Where the allergen was administered will resemble an area bitten by mosquito encircled by a red colour ring
- Your doctor will analyse your reaction and grade it. And as for the elevated lumps created by the reaction, they typically get relieved under a couple of hours
Everyone can get a skin prick test; age is not a barrier. Infants above the age of 6 months can get tested. This testing method for allergy is widespread and, on most occasions, not dangerous. It is uncommon for a severe allergic reaction to start from a skin prick test. But those with a family history of chronic reactions may experience this. Again, this type of reaction is widely reported with food allergies. But don’t be scared; your doctor knows this possibility and can identify and have these reactions treated.
Your skin prick test at Medical Express Clinic
We offer skin prick allergy tests in London to help patients know their allergies. And, of course, we also treat allergies. So, don’t hesitate to contact our team of friendly specialists today.