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Why Skin Testing Is Important to Really Understand Your Allergies

Millions of children and adults in the United States live with allergies to food, medicines, and substances in the environment. Allergies are more than a mere annoyance. Whether you deal with them seasonally or year-round, allergies can impair your quality of life. A simple test can check for allergies and help to understand the cause of your symptoms.

Allergy specialist Dr. Rafiquddin Rahimi helps patients manage their symptoms and live well with allergies. He uses a simple skin test to check your reaction to as many as 40 substances. It’s important to know that skin testing isn’t used alone to make an allergy diagnosis. Dr. Rahimi will conduct a comprehensive evaluation and make a diagnosis based on symptoms, medical history, and other factors. He may order additional testing, such as blood tests.

However, skin testing is the gold standard and where Dr. Rafiquddin will likely start on the path to getting to the root of your symptoms.

What is an allergy?

Your immune system plays a key role in helping you to remain well by looking out for foreign invaders and reacting to fight against them. Sometimes the immune system can react to otherwise harmless substances. This is known as an allergic reaction.

When you have an allergic reaction, the immune system releases chemicals in the blood meant to fend off foreign substances. These chemicals cause the characteristic symptoms of itching, sneezing, redness, runny nose, and watery eyes – depending on the substance to which you’re allergic.

Skin testing

To find out what allergens affect you, Dr. Rafiquddin conducts a simple, painless test known as a skin prick test. This involves pricking your skin with a small amount of suspected allergy-causing substances and waiting about 20 minutes for signs of an allergic reaction.

Why is skin testing important?

Information from your skin test helps Dr. Rafiquddin develop a treatment plan to manage your symptoms. Treatment approaches include medications to ease and control symptoms and making changes to avoid the substance(s) to which you have an allergy. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are a treatment option for many allergies as well.

Dr. Rafiquddin uses skin testing to help diagnose various allergic conditions, including:

Safety of skin testing

In general, allergy skin tests are most reliable for diagnosing allergies to airborne substances, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Skin testing may help diagnose food allergies, but keep in mind that food allergies can be complex and require additional testing.

Skin tests are generally safe for adults and children of all ages. However, skin testing isn’t appropriate for everyone. Dr. Rafiquddin may advise against skin testing if you:

In the event that skin testing is inappropriate, blood tests can be useful in getting to the bottom of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can begin.

What you can expect

When you visit Dr. Rafiquddin at Allergy Relief Clinics, you can expect testing to take up to 40 minutes. Skin testing detects immediate allergic reactions that develop within minutes of allergen exposure. Dr. Rafiquddin may recommend additional tests to detect delayed allergic reactions. These develop over several days of allergen exposure. The test is not painful. A nurse practitioner lightly scratches the skin with a suspected allergen and waits to see if you have a reaction.

If you are allergic to one of the substances tested, you'll develop a raised, red, itchy bump (wheal) that may look like a mosquito bite. A nurse will then measure the bump's size.

A positive skin test means that you may be allergic to a particular substance. Bigger wheels usually indicate a greater degree of sensitivity. A negative skin test means that you probably aren't allergic to a particular allergen.

Keep in mind, skin tests aren't always accurate. It’s possible to have a false positive or false negative when you're exposed to a suspected allergen.

To learn more about skin testing and allergy treatment at Allergy Relief Clinics contact our Richardson, Texas clinic to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rafiquddin, or book here online.

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