Skin testing helps identify substances that may cause an allergic reaction. A sterile plastic disposable device that has been coated in allergen pricks the outer surface of the skin. Usually, this is done on the back, but may be done on the arm. Adverse reactions to skin testing are rare but can include sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, or shortness of breath.
If you have questions, please call our office before the appointment.
Preparing for your skin test
Certain medications can interfere with the response to allergy testing. To prepare for your skin test, you must stop taking antihistamines seven days before your appointment. This includes over-the-counter medications that contain an antihistamine medication (such as Nyquil).
Asthma inhalers, Montelukast (which is Singulair), inhaled nasal steroids (such as fluticasone) and topical skin creams do not interfere with skin testing. You do not need to stop those before your appointment.
If you are being seen for chronic swelling and hives and are taking antihistamines to control your symptoms, you do not need to stop taking them before the appointment.
If you are not sure if a medication is an antihistamine or if it should be stopped, please call us to check ahead of time.
Note: Stopping antidepressants or other psychiatric medications always needs authorization by the prescribing physician, and if needed, should be continued.
To prepare for your skin test, stop taking the following antihistamines seven days before your appointment.
- Azelastine eyedrops (Optivar)
- Azelastine nasal sprays (Astelin, Astepro)
- Clarinex (Desloratadine)
- Emadine eyedrops (emedastine)
- Hydroxyzine (Atarax, Vistaril)
- Levocetirizine oral (Xyzal)
- Allegra (fexofenadine)
- Alavert (loratadine)
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine)
- Claritin (loratadine)
- Dimetane (brompheniramine)
- Tavist (clemastine)
- Xyzal (levocetirizine)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)
Other things to know about skin testing
- Less common food allergies: We do not have extracts for every single food available for testing but do have them for the most common food allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish). If you are coming in for an allergy to a fruit, vegetable, or less common food allergy, bring that food with you (for example, apple or avocado). Fresh fruits and vegetables actually work better than extracts for skin testing since they are less processed. We can almost always test with a food that you bring in. Only a pea-sized amount of the food is needed for testing purposes.
- Asthma medications: Take all medications for asthma as usual unless you are otherwise directed.
- Sun exposure: Please avoid excessive sun exposure before testing.
- Food sensitivity testing: We do not order or interpret food sensitivity testing, such as food IgG testing. Food IgG testing is not FDA approved or validated. Please see the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website for more information.
- Antibiotic and medication allergy testing: For antibiotic or other medication allergies, we do have penicillin available for skin testing; however, we do not routinely have every antibiotic or other drug on hand for skin testing. You may need a separate follow-up appointment for additional antibiotic skin testing. Please feel free to call a few days or more ahead of your appointment and discuss any additional testing needs and we may be able to order items ahead of time.