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Ask the Allergist

What are the different types of allergy skin tests?

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Question
What are the different types (methods?) of skin prick testing? Is one type better than another? What about patch testing?
Answer

Allergy skin testing detects the presence of specific IgE. There are several different devices available for prick/puncture and these devices can result in some minor differences in the skin test results, but they can all be reliable if used correctly. The allergist should be familiar with these different devices and the interpretation of results. The allergy clinic staff needs to be well versed in how to interpret these results based on the type of prick/puncture device used.

There is not one testing device that is superior to the others. Each clinic should determine which device is best for that physician’s clinic. Of note, the Multitest has several allergens to test on the device usually eight. It should be performed on the back and may be a little more painful.

Atopy patch testing is different from prick/puncture skin testing. This testing is an important tool to assess for skin allergies in patients with eczema. It is used to rule out delayed contact allergic reactions. The patches are placed on the back and removed at 48 hours. The results are interpreted by standard methods.

Categories
Allergy, Diagnosis
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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Comments (3)

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Good afternoon,

Than you for information you just shared. I work with a parent who's child was sent to two different labs for blood work for allergy for lobster or shellfish after taking the prick/puncture skin test. Mom was very concern about having to go too two different labs for results. How can I help educate her with information that will make her feel better or understand the method used for results.

NW
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