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How Do Doctors Test for Allergies?

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:

  1. A skin test (also called a scratch test) is the most common allergy test. With this test, the doctor or nurse will put a tiny bit of an allergen (like pollen or food) on the skin, then prick the outer layer of skin or make a small scratch on the skin. 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.
  2. 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: 2015-04-14