Skin and Patch Testing Patient Information
Skin testing is the most sensitive way to determine allergy to tree, grass, and weed pollen, as well as mold, house dust mite, and animals. Additional testing to other allergens, including foods, medicines, or stinging insects, may also be performed.
Small disposable plastic devices are used to apply tiny “pricks” to the forearm (or back, for small children). Depending on the results (interpreted after a few minutes), additional testing may be applied underneath the skin on the upper arm. For this procedure, a cream containing a topical anesthetic may be used to assist in making infants and small children more comfortable.
Patch testing may be used for patients with suspected delayed allergic reactions that occur several hours or days after exposure to foods or chemicals. This non-invasive procedure involves the application of small paper adhesive “patches” (each containing a distinct chemical or food) to the back. The patches remain in place for two days and then they are removed. Results are interpreted at two and four days following the application of the patches.
Prior to patch testing:
- No medicated or steroid creams or ointments on back (2 weeks prior)
- No oral steroids (2 weeks prior) [prednisone, Orapred, Prelone, Medrol Dosepak]
- No tanning bed or sun exposure (2 weeks prior)
- Wear old (preferably dark-colored) shirt
- Men, if necessary, shave back (2 days prior)
Once patch test is applied, do the following through Friday’s appointment:
- Continue to use no creams or ointments on back
- No oral steroids
- No tanning bed or sun exposure
- Do not get patches wet or take them off (if patches loosen, you may reattach with hypoallergenic surgical tape)
- If itching occurs, may use oral antihistamine for breakthrough itching
- Try not to scratch back
- No excessive sweating
Patch Testing Steps
- Forty-five patches will be applied on Monday. (For small children, three patches will be placed, and then two patches placed two weeks later.)
- Patches will be removed and reviewed on Wednesday.
- Patches will be reviewed again on Friday. You can finally get your back wet now!
The purpose of your first visit id to determine what is the cause of your symptoms so that we can develop an individual treatment plan. You visit will include a very detailed medical history, physical examination, and, in many cases, allergy skin testing. Other studies may include X-rays, laboratory tests, and lung function tests.
Please do not take any antihistamine medication for at least 72 hours before your first visit, since they may interfere with your allergy skin test results. (If you are taking Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra, stop five days prior to your appointment; and if you are on Hismanal, stop three weeks or more prior to your appointment.)
Antihistamines are found in many allergy, cold, and sinus medications. If you have any question about the type of medication you are taking, please ask one of our staff or your pharmacist.
After we have obtained a full history, and necessary testing has been completed, it is important to review our findings and recommendations with you. In most instances, we can do so on the same day as your initial evaluation.
Your entire problem will be discussed, with a course of treatment outlined in detail. You are encouraged to ask questions, and, if possible, to have your spouse or significant other present for the treatment conference so that all concerned will fully understand what is necessary for the treatment program to work.