If you’ve learned to live with your allergies for years — we’re here to offer a different path. Allergies are so common it would seem logical that any doctor’s office can provide accurate testing and effective therapies, but many doctors don’t have the tools to provide the long-term care that’s needed. Our board-certified allergists at Ohio State have been studying allergies for years with specialized training to provide you with the customized care you deserve.

Your road to improving your allergy symptoms may include the following allergy tests or treatments:

  • Inhalant testing
  • Skin contact testing
  • Medications to treat your symptoms
  • Immunology to train your immune system against allergies

What is inhalant allergy testing?

Inhalant allergies are reactions to things you breathe in, such as pollens, molds, dust and animal dander. Despite the name, testing is performed using either skin prick or, in some cases, blood tests. A skin prick test is more accurate and the preferred method to test for inhalant allergy testing.

What to expect during inhalant allergy testing?

Allergy skin tests aren’t painful. The skin prick testing device has small plastic prongs that penetrate the superficial layers of your skin. Children as young as 5 years old can easily tolerate this type of testing. Reactions to an inhalant allergy skin test should occur within about 20 minutes of being exposed. For most people, this test provides a clear diagnosis of their allergy triggers. Occasionally, if these tests aren’t definitive, your allergy doctor will proceed with intradermal skin testing. This test places a small amount of allergen slightly deeper into the skin.

There are some medications that interfere with the results of skin testing or make skin testing less safe. Your doctor may have you stop taking certain medications five to seven days before testing.

For blood testing, the physician decides which allergens to test you for based on your medical history. You’ll have several small tubes of blood drawn in the lab. The blood will then be tested against each of the potential allergens determined by the physician. Blood testing is a good choice for people with asthma that is not well-controlled, those who are pregnant, who have rare skin conditions that don’t allow them to stop taking antihistamine medication for five days prior to skin testing, or who are taking a high blood pressure medication, or certain types of eye drops.

What is skin contact allergy testing?

Skin contact allergy testing, or patch testing, is a way of diagnosing whether there are substances in your environment that react with your skin to cause allergy symptoms ranging from a rash or hives to chest tightness or difficulty breathing.

Possible allergens include virtually anything your skin comes into contact with:

  • Hair and skin care products
  • Cleaning and laundry products
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Glues
  • Topical medications

While the process to inhalant skin testing is similar, skin contact allergy testing can return a reaction over a much longer period of time. With inhalant testing, the test substances are placed on the skin, and a reaction occurs or doesn’t occur within 20 minutes. The allergens in patch testing can cause a reaction over a 12- to 24-hour period or more, so the test substances have to be in contact with the skin longer.

What to expect during a patch allergy test?

  • Test panels of common allergens are attached to medical adhesive paper, with several in each group.
  • The panels are placed on your back, between the shoulder blades. They are flat and comfortable to sleep on.
  • After 2-3 days the test panels are removed.
  • This process will be repeated to rule out an allergy to the adhesive paper itself or otherwise confirm the test results.

Learn more about allergy treatments.

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