Testing for allergies is vital for controlling and managing your eczema. There are many different types of tests available and we have listed them below. Eczema prick testing and patch testing for allergies are the best ones for establishing what affects your skin and body the most.
An allergy test can establish whether you have an allergy and what you’re allergic to. This is key to managing your condition.
It seems simple, Eliminate foods or substances that affect your eczema and you will be much better off right?
That’s right, but finding out what affects your body the most is not a straightforward process. This is due to a number of different chemicals and ingredients within a single product. Remember babies and young children can outgrow food allergies so regular testing is important.
Where do you start?
Your first port of call must always be your Doctor or GP. Tell them your concerns and tell them the symptoms. They will probably suggest a blood test to start with, However, this will not identify everything. It only looks at the main intolerances. Eczema Prick testing and Patch testing for allergies are available through the NHS and privately and in self-test kits.
Not every NHS hospital has an allergy clinic, so you may have to wait longer and travel further for testing in some parts of the country. Your Doctor, however, will be able to point you in the right direction and give you all the information you’ll need to move forward with the tests.
Skin prick testing
A skin prick test is usually the first test to be done after blood tests when looking for an allergen. It’s quick, painless ( even if you don’t like needles or lancets as they’re known ) and is totally safe, and you get the results within about 20-30 minutes.
Your skin is pricked with a tiny amount of the suspected allergen to see if there’s a reaction on the skin. If there is, the skin around the prick will very quickly become itchy and a red, swollen mark called a wheel will appear. This identifies the substance you have an allergy too.
A nurse generally administers the test, and a doctor interprets the results. A skin prick test sometimes called a puncture or scratch test, checks for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 40 different substances at once.
How is it done?
After cleaning the test site with alcohol, the nurse draws small marks on your skin and applies a drop of allergen extract next to each mark. He or she then uses a lancet to prick the extracts into the skin’s surface. A new lancet is used for each allergen.
To see if your skin is reacting normally, two additional substances are scratched into your skin’s surface:
- Histamine. In most people, this substance causes a skin response. If you don’t react to histamine, your allergy skin test may not reveal an allergy even if you have one.
- Glycerin or saline. In most people, these substances don’t cause any reaction. If you do react to glycerin or saline, you may have sensitive skin. Test results will need to be interpreted cautiously to avoid a false allergy diagnosis.
About 15 minutes after the skin pricks, the nurse observes your skin for signs of allergic reactions. 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.
After the nurse records the results, he or she will clean your skin with alcohol to remove the marks.
Prick testing and patch testing can often be confused as the same thing, There definitely not the same. Prick testing, tests for allergies straight away and the results can be seen and confirmed in writing within 20-30 minutes. Patch tests can detect delayed allergic reactions, which can take several days to develop. Patch testing is done to see which substances cause allergic skin irritation which severely affects people suffering from contact dermatitis.
How is it done?
No needles are used in Patch testing ( So don’t worry if you hate needles). Instead, allergens are applied to patches, which are then placed on your skin. Your skin may be exposed to 20 to 30 extracts of substances that can cause contact dermatitis. These can include medications, fragrances, preservatives, hair dyes, latex, metals, and resins.
You wear the patches on your arm or back for 48 hours. During this time, you should avoid bathing and activities that cause heavy sweating. The patches are removed when you return to your doctor’s office. The irritated skin at the patch site may indicate an allergy, this will become red, itchy and inflamed indicating a reaction to the substance.
Remember this is to find out what affects your body slowly, not an instant reaction from being in contact with something for a short period of time. This test is usually carried out at a dermatology department in a hospital.
This test is usually carried out at a dermatology department in a hospital.
What other test are available?
Skin injection testing
Very similar to skin prick testing, but only done in a small area of the arm. Intradermal skin tests further evaluate the substances that could be causing an allergic reaction. Your doctor may recommend an intradermal skin test after initial skin prick testing, if necessary. But skin prick testing is normally the best way to identify the allergies.
Typically, the nurse will superficially inject the upper arm with a specific allergen to which the patient may be allergic.
Positive reactions on the skin testing are typically a red, itchy area with a raised center that may look like a mosquito bite. Skin testing on the arm as compared with negative (saline) and positive (histamine) controls to help gauge the intensity of the reaction.
Food challenge for food allergies
A food challenge also called an oral challenge, is the most accurate way to diagnose a food allergy. During the test, you’re given gradually increasing amounts of the food you think you are allergic to, to see how you react. Only one food can be tested at each appointment. Your Doctor or GP will arrange this procedure.
You can get a good quality home test from Amazon CLICK HERE
These test kits are a great start if you can’t get to see a Doctor. I would always recommend you to do a full test at recognized center, But they are worth the money to get a quick idea of what to cut out straight away, or if you live in a rural area or country and the doctor’s service isn’t easily accessible.
Where can I get these test done?
- The Allergy UK helpline team can help you find your nearest NHS allergy clinic or consultant. The helpline number is 01322 619 898, and operates from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
- Home food allergy test kits are quick and easily available on AMAZON CLICK HERE
- YorkTest Labs have one of the best test available outside your Doctor ( We used this one) CLICK HERE
- Dr. Morris- Surrey Allergy clinic CLICK HERE £240 for full test.
- LACK-London Allergy Care and Knowledge center CLICK HERE
- Newzeland – Chemotechnique Diagnostics CLICK HERE
- BSACI- The British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology CLICK HERE
- The James Cook University Hospital. For an appointment please ring 01642 282570 or CLICK HERE
- Oxford University HHospitalNHS & Private (Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 4 .00pm) Tel: 01865 228 266