Skin tests for allergens: what are they for and how are they performed

A skin test is an effective diagnostic test that allows you to identify which allergen a person has a pathological reaction to.

Types of skin tests

All skin tests are divided into three groups depending on the method of application:

  • application;
  • scarification;
  • prick tests

The application test is the application of a swab soaked in a medical solution. The solution contains an allergen. The tampon is applied to the skin for a while and the result is assessed.

Scarification tests are performed differently. First, a solution with an allergen is applied to the skin of the forearm, and then the site of application is scratched with a scarifier.

Prick tests are similar to scarification tests, only the skin is not scratched, but pierced with a needle at the site of the allergen application.

To understand what a person is allergic to, sometimes you need to perform a lot of tests, but it is recommended to carry out no more than fifteen at a time. They start with the most common allergens. It can be a solution with pollen, dust, herbs. If the skin remains unchanged after the test, there is no allergy to this component, but if the epithelium turns red, irritation appears, the allergen is found. In dermatology, such tests are needed, for example, in the treatment of eczema, atopic dermatitis. 

Skin tests for bronchial asthma are performed to identify a substance that provokes attacks. If the treatment fails, the doctor may prescribe injections containing small doses of the allergen to “train” the body to perceive them. It is an effective treatment, especially for reactions to pollen, dust mites and hair.

Intradermal test to detect tuberculosis

The tuberculin test, known as the Mantoux test, deserves special attention. A substance called tuberculin is injected subcutaneously, which contains the waste products of mycobacterium tuberculosis. An allergic reaction occurs to the administration of the drug. Moreover, it appears both in patients with tuberculosis and in those who have been vaccinated against it. The result can only be assessed by a pediatrician who studies and compares the results of several tests carried out in dynamics. For children, a Mantoux skin test is performed annually. As a result of the introduction of tuberculin, a papule appears, the diameter of which is measured. This test is one of the main measures to prevent the spread of tuberculosis.

Allergy tests can help in the treatment of many skin diseases, therefore they are widely used in dermatology. Also, this diagnostic method is often used in the treatment of bronchopulmonary pathologies, such as obstructive allergic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, as well as for the treatment of enlarged adenoids in children, food allergies.  

event_note September 30, 2021

account_box Dr. Peter B Milburn

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