About Allergy & Immunology

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How Do Doctors Test for Allergies?

The doctor suspects that my son has allergies and recommended that we get him tested. What kind of tests should we expect?
Polly

The two main types of allergy tests are skin tests and blood tests:

  • With a skin prick or scratch test, the skin is scratched or pricked with a tiny bit of liquid extract of an allergen (such as pollen or food). If the area swells up and becomes red (like a mosquito bite), the test is said to be positive, meaning that the child is allergic to that substance. Skin testing allows the doctor to see within about 15 minutes if a child is allergic to the substances tested.
  • A blood test may be used if a skin test can't be done. It takes a few days to get the results of blood tests.

Talk to your doctor or allergist about the specific test that will be done.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012

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