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Knowing Your Allergies Is the First Step to Feeling Better

By HERWriter
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Know Your Allergies: It's the First Step to Feeling Better Photographee.eu/Fotolia

If you get seasonal sniffles, you probably assume you have hay fever or some kind of allergy. But if over-the-counter medications aren’t getting the job done, it might be time to have some test done.

Find out exactly what you are allergic to, so you can be more precise in your treatment plan.

If you are prone to allergies, your doctor may refer you to an allergist for testing to find out exactly what you are allergic to. An allergist is a specialist with extra training to diagnose and treat allergies, asthma and immunologic disorders.

Allergy testing can help your allergist pinpoint the best treatment to give you relief from your allergy symptoms.

There are two basic types of allergy testing: skin tests and blood tests.

Skin tests for allergies

As the name suggests, skin tests are performed on or just under the surface of your skin. Things that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens.

During the test, your skin is lightly scratched and small amounts of your possible allergens are placed on the scratches. This test is usually done on your back or on the inside of your forearm and are called skin prick or scratch tests.

Many different allergens are typically tested at the same time by applying the allergens in rows on your skin.

The substances that are tested can vary, depending on what plant allergens grow in your area. Other common allergens besides pollens that may be tested for include dog and cat dander or dust.

Another type of skin test involves injecting a small amount of allergen just under the surface of your skin. It's called an intradermal skin test.

This is more commonly done with things like bee venom or penicillin. This method may be used as a backup test to verify a scratch test reaction.

With both of these test methods, a small welt or red, itchy spot similar to a mosquito bite will develop if you are allergic to that allergen. If there is no reaction, you are not allergic to that particular allergen.

It usually takes about 20 minutes for an allergic reaction to show on your skin, but delayed reactions are also possible.

Allergy Testing. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Web. Retrieved May 25, 2016.

Allergy testing – skin. Medline Plus. Web. Retrieved May 25, 2016.

Allergy Testing Overview. American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Web. Retrieved May 25, 2016.

Allergy Tests. WebMD. Web. Retrieved May 25, 2016.

Contact Dermatitis. WebMD. Web. Retrieved May 25, 2016.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

My husband is worried he's allergic to something in the air, and I suggested he get an at home test to check if this is true. Your article had great information about getting a test like this, and I liked how you said if my husband does blood testing, he should be aware that it takes several days to get results back from the lab and can be more expensive than skin testing. Thanks; I'll share this with my husband to help him test for allergies.

May 24, 2019 - 6:47am
Guide (reply to Anonymous)


Best of luck to your husband! Let us know how he made out.


May 24, 2019 - 1:58pm
EmpowHER Guest

I was tested when I was little for different types of allergies, but I think I want to get another test in case I developed a new allergy. I didn't know you could do a blood testing for allergies. I didn't like the idea of seeing my skin reacting to the allergies so I think I will try a blood testing. Thanks!

April 11, 2017 - 9:48am
EmpowHER Guest

I often get sick in the spring and fall. Thanks for the advice about how you can get allergy tested, and then find the best treatment for yourself. Another thing to consider is finding and allergy doctor that you like and get along with. http://www.oakbrookallergists.com/stinging-insect-allergies.html

August 15, 2016 - 11:59am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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