Allergic reactions range from annoying to deadly. If you notice an adverse reaction to food or something in the environment, a simple test administered by a health care professional can indicate the exact allergens that irritate you. Depending on your sensitivity to allergens and your medication regimen, you may take a skin test or blood test.
- Schedule an appointment with your health care provider to take an allergy test. Tell your doctor about any antihistamines you currently take — some prohibit skin testing. Also tell your doctor if you’ve ever had a life-threatening reaction to an allergen or a serious reaction to a previous test.
- Stop taking antihistamines one week before your test, or for a period of time specified by your doctor. Antihistamines include over-the-counter and prescription medications, nasal sprays or eye drops. If you are unsure whether you’re taking antihistamines, ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medications.
- Dress in a short-sleeved short or layers over a short-sleeved shirt on the day of your appointment. This will make it easier for your physician to administer the test.
- Go to your doctor’s office on the day of the appointment. You will be given a prick skin test on the forearm or back to detect allergens such as pollen, dust mites, molds and dander. You may alternatively be given an intradermal skin test (needle stick) or blood test, which is given to small children or people who can’t take a skin test due to medication. The test results take 15 to 20 minutes to develop, after which the doctor will discuss your results. The skin test site may flare up during this time, but effects usually fade after a few hours.
- Apply a cold compress or topical antihistamine to the irritated skin test site if necessary. Avoid scratching the site.