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Testing For Allergies - No Need for the Pricks?

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

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.

Join The Conversation
mandiesoh mandiesoh 10 years
:jawdrop: that reason sucks! omg. never had the need to do the test and hope i never will!
kscincotta kscincotta 10 years
My brother had this test when he was like 6, and I remember having to listen to him scream from the waiting room (I was only 8). My poor Mom had to try to calm him down, but she's deathly afraid of needles, so she was in just about as bad a shape as he was. It was one of our worst days, and I wasn't even really involved.
smcinthecity smcinthecity 10 years
The blood test is not as accurate as the prick test. Unfortunately I know way too much about this, and just had my prick test today. The blood test only test for histamines floating in your blood stream, but it misses what causes the reactions. So I was really allergic to dust mites with the blood test, but with the prick test I am allergic to a whole slew of things and start shots next week!!
workinggirl83 workinggirl83 10 years
I had this test when I was relatively young, like 5 or 6. I still remember screaming in pain. It took forever, I was crying and the nurses had to play soothing nursery rhyme music in the room to make me stop. Talk about a traumatic experience.
danielchiang danielchiang 10 years
I also do a testing procedure called Meridian Stress Assessment (MSA). It measures changes in the body's electrical resistance when different frequencies of specific foods are introduced electronically using the testing device. It is non-invasive and is quite thorough as our test goes through 300+ foods in different categories like fruits, vegetables, oils, baking ingredients, dairy, meats, fish and more. I do this testing in Toronto and I'm not 100% sure of where it is available elsewhere. If you're interested, you can go to for more information. I'm putting a site together that will help you find other Meridian Stress Assessment technicians in your area. (this will take me some time to put this together though...) MSA testing is very accurate as it measures the change of your internal organs and not just your skin. The blood testing procedure is pretty good too, but it can be fairly pricey ranging in the 'several hundred dollar' range. 300+ foods with MSA testing is less than $100 and takes only 45 minutes and you get your results immediately. Cheers, Daniel
gadgetgal gadgetgal 10 years
I first went to the allergist about 7 years ago. I was petrified because of this test. Luckily, there is a skin test that they can do. It itches like crazy, takes only 15 minutes and is painless. Goes right on your arms too;not too bad in the convenience department.
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
About 8 years ago, I started getting bad reactions to fresh fruit and veggies (certain types), then tree nuts. For a long time, I assumed it was pesticides (based on what kinds of food affected me). Also, over these years, my seasonal allergies have gone from non-existant to pretty bad. So anyway, I finally put all the clues together when I heard about Oral Allergy Syndrome. It's somethign like the trees cross-pollenate the fruit and nuts come from trees. So really, this fruit allergy I've had is really a tree allergy? See - I don't need no stinkin' doctor! (maybe I do...I'm trying to figure out if my newest allergy is my poor kitty or mold - hope it's mold!!)
julieulie julieulie 10 years
This test has been around for a while -- I know about 12 or 13 years ago I had an IgE blood test done for allergies. I started out with the skin prick test, but they didn't do the patch on the back -- just went straight to my arms. I didn't mind it at all, but once they discovered that I had so many allergies, they just went ahead and did a blood test because they can do a vast number of tests with a small amount of blood.
ZergGirl ZergGirl 10 years
It's sure no fun, but after 4 years of being absolutely miserable, I bit the bullet and went back in September for the test and the shots. It's been so great not sneezing and wheezing and having my eyes water all the time. I wish I had had it done back when I started having the problems.
txhottie txhottie 10 years
I HATED this test! It took forever, then because my reactions to a few things were so sever, I had to have needles in my arms three times just to find out what I was really allergic too. I can't wait till the allergy shots are more affordable!
ccsugar ccsugar 10 years
Ugh I had the prick test done about 10 years ago. NOT FUN. You're lying there and there's just this overwhelming need to reach behind you and scratch the heck out of your back!! Just thinking about it is making me itchy!!
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