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How To Read An Allergy Test

Can A Wheal Be A Sign Of An Allergy

How to Read Your Allergy Test Results

If you have wheals on any areas where an allergen was placed on your skin, you likely had an allergic reaction to the substance. If you are allergic to multiple substances, you may have multiple wheals. Wheals that are smaller than 3 millimetres in diameter may not be a sign of an allergic reaction.

What Is Skin Allergy Test

Allergy skin tests are used to find out which substances cause a person to have an allergic reaction. During allergy skin tests, your skin is exposed to suspected allergy-causing substances and is then observed for signs of an allergic reaction.

Along with your medical history, allergy tests may be able to confirm whether or not a particular substance you touch, breathe or eat is causing symptoms.

Information from allergy tests may help your doctor develop an allergy treatment plan that includes allergen avoidance, medications or allergy shots .

Allergy skin tests may cause very mild discomfort when the skin is pricked. You may have symptoms such as itching, a stuffy nose, red watery eyes, or a skin rash if youre allergic to the substance in the test.

In rare cases, people can have a whole-body allergic reaction , which can be life threatening. This usually only occurs with intradermal skin testing. Your doctor will be prepared to treat this serious response.

Allergy skin tests are generally safe for adults and children of all ages, including infants. In certain circumstances, though, skin tests arent recommended. Your doctor may advise against skin testing if you:

Blood tests can be useful for those who shouldnt undergo skin tests. Blood tests arent done as often as skin tests because they can be less sensitive than skin tests and are more expensive.

Skin Scratch Or Prick Test

The skin scratch test or skin prick test which also goes by the name of a Puncture Test. The test is used for checking for sudden allergic reactions as many as up to 40 allergens. Mostly it is for testing allergies that crop up due to allergens such as, pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites, and foods. It is done on the forearm for the adults, while children have it done on their upper backs.

Since allergy skin tests are not at all painful when it comes to this type of allergy skin test needles or lancets that hardly enter the epidermis. One does not bleed or but they only have some slight discomfort. The area where the test is to be done on is cleaned using alcohol, then small drawings are made on the skin. A drop of the allergy causing substance I applied besides each mark. A needle is used in this case to ensure that the allergen is pierced into the surface of the skin. For each allergen being tested a new needle is used.

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How Is The Size Of The Wheal Test Determined

A commonly used method is to characterize the wheal size by its average diameter. A more accurate method is to scan the area of the wheal to calculate the actual size. In both methods, skin prick test results can be corrected for histamine-sensitivity of the skin by dividing the results of the allergic reaction by the histamine control.

Allergy Blood Test Vs Skin Test


Allergy blood tests are used to find out if you have an allergy. One type of allergy blood test called a total immunoglobulin E test measures the overall number of immunoglobulin E antibodies in your blood. Another type of allergy blood test called a specific IgE test measures the level of IgE antibodies in response to individual allergens.

In allergy blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

What do the allergy blood test results mean?

If your total immunoglobulin E levels are higher than normal, it likely means you have some kind of allergy. But it does not reveal what you are allergic to. A specific immunoglobulin E test will help identify your particular allergy. If your results indicate an allergy, your health care provider may refer you to an allergy specialist or recommend a treatment plan.

Your treatment plan will depend on the type and severity of your allergy. People at risk for anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction that can cause death, need to take extra care to avoid the allergy-causing substance. They may need to carry an emergency epinephrine treatment with them at all times.

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What Do The Results Mean

If your total IgE levels are higher than normal, it likely means you have some kind of allergy. But it does not reveal what you are allergic to. A specific IgE test will help identify your particular allergy. If your results indicate an allergy, your health care provider may refer you to an allergy specialist or recommend a treatment plan.

Your treatment plan will depend on the type and severity of your allergy. People at risk for anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction that can cause death, need to take extra care to avoid the allergy-causing substance. They may need to carry an emergency epinephrine treatment with them at all times.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider if you have questions about your test results and/or your allergy treatment plan.

Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.

How Is Allergy Testing Performed In Dogs

Allergy testing in dogs can be performed using two techniques: intradermal skin testing or RAST testing. Each method has its own pros and cons.

While intradermal skin testing has long been regarded as the ‘gold standard’ in determining the cause of atopic dermatitis, it is only performed by veterinary dermatologists. Dog owners seeking intradermal testing for their dogs must travel to a dermatologist, which may not be available to all pet owners . Additionally, intradermal skin testing requires your dog to be anesthetized. Large areas of your dogs coat must be shaved, in order to allow the injection sites to be monitored for a reaction.

“RAST testing requires only a single blood sample.”

In contrast, RAST testing requires only a single blood sample. This blood sample can be drawn by your regular veterinarian during a routine wellness visit. The blood sample is submitted to a reference laboratory for analysis. No sedation or anesthesia is needed, and your dog will not need to have hair shaved for this test.

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Allergy Testing: Purpose Procedure And Results

An allergy test is an exam performed by a trained allergy specialist to determine whether your body has an allergic reaction to a known substance. The exam can be in the form of a blood or skin test .

Your immune system is your bodys natural defense. Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to something in your environment. For example, pollen, which is normally harmless, can cause the immune system to overreact. This overreaction can lead to:

  • a runny nose
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • coughing or wheezing

Allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction. There are three primary types of allergens:

  • Inhaled allergens affect the body when they come in contact with the lungs or membranes of the nostrils or throat. Pollen is the most common inhaled allergen.
  • Ingested allergens are present in certain foods, such as peanuts, soy, and seafood.
  • Contact allergens must come in contact with the skin to produce a reaction. An example of a reaction from a contact allergen is the rash and itching caused by poison ivy.

Allergy tests involve exposing you to a very small amount of a particular allergen and recording the reaction.

Allergies affect more than 50 million people living in the United States, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology . Inhaled allergens are by far the most common type.

Before your allergy test, your doctor will ask you about your lifestyle, family history, and more.

What Should I Expect During An Allergy Test

Skin Prick Test to Test For Allergy

The purpose of skin tests is to see how your body responds to allergens. If you have an allergic reaction, youll develop a reaction at the site of the test. Rarely patients may have mild allergy symptoms such as itchy skin, watery eyes and congestion. Most symptoms clear up in one to two hours after the test, the redness or wheals may remain for several more hours.

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Common Problems With Skin Prick Testing

One of the common errors in skin prick testing is placing the tests too close together so that spreading of allergen solutions between test sites occurs.

There are many reasons that cause a false-positive or false-negative skin prick test result.

Causes of a false-positive skin allergy test result

  • A positive reaction from one test site may affect the result of a neighboring test site
  • Irritant reaction

Causes of a false-negative skin allergy test result

  • Medications such as antihistamines that block the effect of histamine
  • Allergen extract too diluted

Some people are surprised by negative test reactions when they have been fairly sure a particular plant has caused their symptoms. This may be because they are allergic to another material. For example, privet is commonly blamed for hay fever, but in fact is a rare cause. Instead, symptoms may be caused by ryegrass, which flowers at the same time as privet. In other instances, rhinitis is due to irritants such as pine pollen, not allergens.

Skin Injection Allergy Skin Test Procedure

For the skin injection allergy skin test in order to determine the normal reaction of the skin from allergens, two more allergens are pricked into the patients skin surface. They are namely

  • Histamine, which naturally leads to reactions in most peoples skins. Failure to react to this may also lead to a lack of any reaction from the allergy skin test even if it is existence.
  • Glycerin or Saline is the other allergen applied on the skin. It mainly does not lead to any reaction in many individuals. Lack of any reaction to this allergen shows that a person has a sensitive skin. The results produced have to be examined more keenly to avoid poor diagnosis.
  • The test is given fifteen minutes then observed for any allergic signs. The existence of allergies due to any of the above allergens leads to the development of a raised itchy bump or wheal that is red in colour and resembles one from a mosquito bite. The size of the bum is then measured. The results are then recorded down and the area of the test is cleaned using alcohol.

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    What Is Done If A Skin Test Cant Be Done

    For these patients, a doctor may use special blood tests, such as the RAST and the . These tests measure the presence of specific types of IgE in the blood.

    These tests may cost more than skin tests, and results are not available immediately. As with skin testing, positive RAST and ELISA tests do not by themselves necessarily make the final diagnosis.

    Will I Need To Do Anything To Prepare For The Test

    Does anyone know how to read allergy tests? : Allergy ...

    You may need to stop taking certain medicines before the test. These include antihistamines and . Your health care provider will let you know which medicines to avoid before your test and how long to avoid them.

    If your child is being tested, the provider may apply a numbing cream to his or her skin before the test.

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    If Your Doctor Ordered Rast Allergy Tests You Might Be Confused About The Numbers Included In The Results Here’s A Guide To What They Actually Mean A Radioallergosorbent Test Measures The Level Of Allergen

    A radioallergosorbent test measures the level of allergen-specific IgE antibodies in your blood. Simply put, it measures your immune system’s reaction to a particular food allergen.

    Despite its capabilities, few doctors use the RAST blood test to screen for allergies today. Instead, they are using newer methodologies to detect the antibodies, some of which do not use radioactivity, such as ImmunoCAP.

    You may see blood test orders simply labeled as allergy blood tests or IgE allergy tests. However, your doctor may have reasons for using the older RAST technology. Here is what you should expect and what the test results actually mean.

    What Is Allergy Testing

    Healthcare providers perform allergy tests to determine whether your immune system overreacts to certain substances . If you have an allergic reaction, it means you have an .

    People can be allergic to things in the environment like mold, pollen and pet dander. Some people have allergic reactions to bee stings or . People with food allergies may not be able to tolerate peanuts, or .

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    Interpreting The Allergy Test Results

    When a person presents with symptoms suggestive of allergy, then tests can either narrow down or rule out other causes. There are three medically accepted tests, which can be helpful to evaluate a patient who may have allergy. They are the skin prick tests , blood tests and challenge testing. However, the history of symptoms is very important and this needs to be taken into account when any of these tests are interpreted.

    Blood tests and skin prick tests are methods that detect IgE antibodies . Blood testing for IgE antibodies measures the levels of allergic antibodies directly in the blood. A positive skin test indicates indirectly the presence of IgE antibodies in the skin. Both methods complement each other and are often used together to help diagnose allergies. There are however some circumstances where skin testing is more suitable than blood testing and vice versa.


    Skin test results are expressed as the diameter of the allergic wheal . Blood tests levels are expressed as concentrations of allergic antibodies in the blood . The size of the blood test and the skin test do not indicate the severity of the allergy. They do however indicate the probability of being allergic

    For example, a large skin prick test diameter to peanut of 10 mm and a high blood test level of 30 IU/mL means that the child almost certainly has peanut allergy

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    What Happens If I Have An Allergy

    Interpreting Allergy Test Results

    Depending on the allergy, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of these steps:

    • Minimize exposure to allergens: Avoid ones that cause severe reactions, such as latex or certain foods.
    • Take daily allergy medications: Antihistamines can prevent or reduce allergic rhinitis and other symptoms.
    • Get allergy shots: This type of immunotherapy can decrease the immune systems response to certain allergens like pet dander. You should get allergy shots for three to five years to experience maximum benefit. Allergy shots can be costly, but they often provide long-lasting relief, even after the shot series is completed.
    • Have a medical alert card: A card or medical alert jewelry lets others know about your severe allergy. It tells them you could have an anaphylactic response to peanuts, bee stings or other allergens.
    • Carry an epinephrine injection: Keep this medicine with you at all times if youre at risk for an anaphylactic allergic reaction.

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Allergic reactions can range from annoying congestion to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Allergy tests can identify substances that cause these types of allergic reactions. There are different allergy tests. Your healthcare provider will choose the best test for you based on symptoms and potential allergy triggers. If you have allergies, you can take steps to get symptom relief.

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    How Does Ige Testing Compare With Skin Prick Testing

    Skin prick testing is more specific than IgE testing and gives a rapid result , but it requires a trained practitioner and is not always tolerated by young children.

    Specific IgE blood tests are simple and safe. They can be expensive, depending on the number of allergens tested. Caution is required when interpreting the results .

    Pros And Cons Of Allergy Blood Tests

    Advantages of allergy blood tests include:

    • Can be done at any time, regardless of any you are taking
    • Requires only one needle stick this may be more attractive for people who are afraid of needles. Allergy blood testing is the preferred test for infants and very young children.

    Disadvantages of allergy blood tests include:

    • More expensive than skin testing many health insurers do not cover allergy blood tests.
    • May be less sensitive than skin tests
    • Takes days or weeks to get results because the blood sample must be sent to a laboratory for evaluation skin testing provides immediate results.

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    Ige Specific Blood And Skin Test Work Identically

    Contributed by Anke Tillman

    A RAST is a way of measuring the amount of IgE antibody in the blood stream made against a specific allergen. RAST tests and allergy skin tests give similar information. Both identify IgE antibody against materials you might be allergic to. RAST tests must be done by specific methods to be accurate and therefore must be sent to specific laboratories. RAST tests and skin tests each have their advantages and disadvantages. Skin tests may pick up some allergies that would be missed by RAST tests but skin tests have a small risk of precipitating an allergic reaction.

    RAST tests report IgE made against specific foods in units known as KU/L. Higher levels indicate a higher chance you will have a reaction if you eat the food. Lower levels indicate a lower chance you will have a reaction.

    Traditionally RAST TESTS have been reported as CLASS 0 to CLASS 5 or 6. Class 0 indicates no allergy. Class 5 or 6 indicates high allergy


    The significance of a result varies with the degree of reaction on the test and with the food. For some foods the predictive value of the RAST test is very high, for others it is lower and not as clear cut as we would like it to be. At times, additional skin testing and in office challenges are required to clarify the significance of a test.

    Examples of RAST test significance include:

    Egg RAST greater than 7KU/L indicates a 98% chance one will react when eating eggs .


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