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Allergy skin test

Related Terms

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Background

  • A skin test is used to determine whether a patient is allergic to certain substances, such as mold, dust mites or animal dander. Patients who experience common allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, hives, watery eyes, runny nose and itching are often tested to determine specific allergies.
  • Allergies occur when the body's immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless (allergen), such as mold, pollen, animal dander or dust mites. The white blood cells of an allergic individual produce an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which attaches to the allergen. This triggers the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals that cause allergic symptoms, such as runny nose and watery eyes.
  • During the test, the skin is exposed to different allergens and then observed for an allergic reaction. Qualified healthcare providers can use the test to determine whether allergy-like symptoms are immune-mediated, and they can identify the specific substance(s) that trigger the reaction. Skin testing is often used to diagnose allergic conditions, including allergic asthma, dermatitis (eczema) and hay fever.
  • The results of a skin test can help a doctor develop an appropriate allergy treatment plan that may include allergen avoidance, lifestyle changes to reduce allergen exposure, medication or allergy shots (immunotherapy).

Who Should Not Be Tested

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Preparing For the Test

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How It Is Performed

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Results

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Risks

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.