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Understanding The Truth Behind A Few Allergy Test Myths

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If you have allergy problems but do not know what you are allergic to, then it is wise to seek out the assistance of an allergist. The professional can complete an allergy test to see what types of substances cause an allergic reaction. You have the option of choosing either a blood or a skin prick test. Skin prick tests are quite common and will take a little over an hour when handled in the allergist's office. If you are deciding on whether or not the test is right for you, then you may be scared off by some misinformation or myths that you have heard. Keep reading to learn about a few and also to find out the truth behind them. 

Myth - Prick Tests Are Painful

Prick tests are far from comfortable, but they are not considered painful. While many people envision needles being placed underneath the skin, this is not what happens. Most tests involve small cylindrical tools that actually scratch the skin instead of piercing it. The small scratches allow the allergen to absorb into your body so an allergic reaction can be noted. The scratch may feel like a cat scratch, so it is not really painful.

Once the allergen is placed on the skin, you will need to sit for about 10 minutes so the allergic reaction can develop. This will feel a bit more uncomfortable than the actual prick part of the test. If you are allergic to one of the substances, then you will feel an intense itching sensation as histamine is created by the body in reaction to the allergen. 

Thankfully, the itching sensation will soon pass, because your allergist will apply an antihistamine cream to the skin once the test is completed. This will instantly calm the itching sensation. You can also use this type of cream at home if you continue to feel itchy after the test is completed.

Myth - Large Welts Will Be Seen Across The Back

You may have heard that allergy testing is completed on the skin across your back. This was something that was often done in the past, but allergists rarely use the back to complete tests any longer. They use the arms in most cases now. The welts that used to appear on the skin would show up when intradermal allergy tests were completed.

While intradermal tests are still completed, the more basic scratch test is administered first. If the allergist is unsure about the reaction, like if the initial welt on the skin was small or nonexistent, then the intradermal test will be completed afterwards. 

Typically, only a few intradermal test sites will be required. You are likely to see welts for a few days after the tests are completed, but they will be relatively small.