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Skin Testing for Allergies

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How to Get Ready for a Test

Tell your doctor about all medicines you're taking, including over-the-counter products. Some drugs can interfere with the results, so your doctor will give you a list of medicines to avoid before the test.

If you can't stop taking a medication, your doctor or nurse may do a separate test to find out if that drug will interfere with the results.

Since allergy medicines, such as OTC antihistamines, stop allergic reactions, you shouldn't take them for a few days before your test. You need to let your body react to the allergens in the test.

Is It Safe?

A skin test may be mildly irritating, but most people say it doesn't hurt. Although you're coming into contact with things you could be allergic to, they're very small amounts. An allergy skin test is safe when done the right way.

Whole-body reactions to skin testing are rare, but let your doctor know right away if you have:

  • Fever
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble breathing
  • A widespread rash
  • Swelling on your face, lips, or mouth
  • A hard time swallowing

After Your Test

The doctor or nurse will clean any extracts and ink marks off your skin with alcohol. You may need to apply a mild cortisone cream to relieve itching.

If you're having a patch test done, you'll go home with bandages on your skin. Don't get these areas wet -- no baths or swimming. When you go back to the doctor in a couple of days, he'll take another look at your skin.

Your doctor or allergist will use the results of your test to come up with a treatment plan for you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on September 24, 2014
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