Allergy & Immunotherapy

About Skin Prick Testing

Along with your medical history, allergy tests may be able to confirm whether a particular substance you touch, breathe or eat is causing symptoms.During allergy skin tests, your skin is exposed to suspected allergy-causing substances (allergens) and is then observed for signs of an allergic reaction.

A skin prick test, also called a scratch test, checks for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 50 different substances at once. This test is usually done to identify allergies to pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and foods. In adults, the test is usually done on the forearm. Children may be tested on the upper back.

Allergy skin tests are not painful. This type of testing uses plastic lancets that barely penetrate the skin’s surface. You will not bleed or feel more than mild, momentary discomfort.

After cleaning the test site with alcohol, an allergen is first applied to each lancet tip, with a different lancet used for each allergen. We use a multi-lancet device to apply the chosen allergens to the skin at the same time to minimise your discomfort and time required for the test to be performed.

About 15 minutes after the skin pricks, the nurse observes your skin for signs of allergic reactions. If you are allergic to one of the substances tested, you will develop a raised, red, itchy bump (wheal) that may look like a mosquito bite. The nurse will then measure the bump’s size and record the results. Next, he or she will clean your skin with alcohol to remove the marks.

Your doctor will then interpret and explain the results of the test to you, using this to guide treatment of your condition.