Living with allergies is very difficult for some people. Having a seasonal allergy that makes you uncomfortable is one thing, but for some people allergies can be extreme and can make it very hard to function during certain times of the year. Testing is available to help the doctor determine your allergies and how to treat them.
For some people, blood testing is a viable option for allergy testing, but sometimes the blood tests will not give the doctor the results they need. If the doctor determines that blood testing is not going to be effective, they will need to consider other options.
If you have a severe allergy that the doctor is trying to narrow down, they may not want to try too many different options because they are trying to limit your exposure to suspected allergens.
The doctor will talk to you about the alternatives if blood tests are not going to be the best solution for your situation.
Patch testing can be extremely effective at narrowing down an allergen. This involves skin testing and exposure to a suspected allergen to determine if your body is going to react to the allergen.
The area used may involve your back, arms, or abdomen, and the process involves drawing a grid on the skin and then exposing the skin to a different allergen in each square. The most common things tested for with patch testing are hay fever, allergic asthma, food allergies, drug allergies, bee venom, dermatitis, and sometimes latex allergies.
After the exposure, the doctor or nurse will monitor the test and see what reacts and what does not. This will let them know what things you are allergic to and how best to treat them for you.
There are some situations in which skin testing is not recommended, but the doctor can talk to you about what the best test is for your situation and what risks are involved.
If you have had a severe allergic reaction to something, adding the allergen into a patch or skin test is not recommended by most doctors. A previous reaction is often the only evidence the doctor needs to treat that particular allergy, and intentionally exposing you to the allergen again could be deadly for some people.
Some medications can create false positives or interfere with the tests as well, so you may not be able to have skin testing if you are on a drug that is going to skew the analysis. Talk to your doctor before any testing starts if you have concerns about the safety of skin tests in your situation.