If you ever thought you had allergies, I bet you've been through the awful skin test at the Allergist's office. The test includes about 40 pricks on your back, injecting you with tiny amounts of certain allergens such as dust, cat dander, and pollen. Then they wait about 20 minutes to see how your body reacts. If your skin creates a swollen bump, much like a mosquito bite, then the doctor knows what you are allergic to. If your skin doesn't react, the doctor would proceed to give you 12 more pricks containing more potent formulas of the same allergens - 6 on each arm. These allergens are injected deeper into you arms, than the pricks on your back. OUCH!!
I can tell you from firsthand experience, that the test is NO FUN. The appointment can take upwards of 3 hours. The skin test definitely isn't ideal by any means, but for a while, it was the only test available.
There's actually another much less traumatic test that can be used. It is a blood test - 1 prick - looking for immunoglobulin E, or IgE.
I wish I knew about this when I was going through my allergy testing. Want to know why I didn't? Then read more
The reason this easier, less painful blood test is not used more could be a money issue. If an allergist performs the skin test, they get paid. If they have to send your blood away to a lab, then the lab gets paid. Allergists also feel that the lab isn't as qualified to interpret the blood test. Hopefully these issues will be resolved soon making the blood test more readily available.
This test will change the lives of all those who know they have allergies, but fear the skin test ordeal to pin point their allergies. Most people just mask their symptoms with over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines.
Fit's Tips: Since Spring is just around the corner (read tomorrow) and it is a season loaded with pollen, you might consider getting tested if you think you have allergies. Ask if your allergist provides the blood test if the dreaded skin test is all that is stopping you.