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Skin allergy test

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Skin allergy test

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A patient receiving a skin allergy test

Skin allergy testing is a method for medical diagnosis of allergies that attempts to provoke a small, controlled, allergic response.

Skin testing on arm
Skin testing on back

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[edit]Process

A microscopic amount of an allergen is introduced to a patient's skin by various means:

  • Prick test or scratch test: pricking the skin with a needle or pin containing a small amount of the allergen
  • Patch test: applying a patch to the skin, where the patch contains the allergen

If an immuno-response is seen in the form of a rashurticaria (hives), or (worse) anaphylaxis it can be concluded that the patient has a hypersensitivity (or allergy) to that allergen. Further testing can be done to identify the particular allergen.

The "scratch test" as it's called, is still very commonly used as an allergen test. A similar test involving injecting the allergen is also used, but is not quite as common due to increased likelihood of infection and general ineffectiveness by comparison. There are other methods available to test for allergy.

[edit]Skin end point titration

Skin end point titration (SET) uses intradermal injection of allergens at increasing concentrations to measure allergic response.[1] To prevent a severe allergic reaction, the test is started with a very dilute solution. After 10 minutes, the injection site is measured to look for growth of wheal, a small swelling of the skin. Two millimeters of growth in 10 minutes is considered positive. If 2mm of growth is noted, then a second injection at a higher concentration is given to confirm the response. The end point is the concentration of antigen that causes an increase in the size of the wheal followed by confirmatory whealing. If the wheal grows larger than 13mm, then no further injection are given since this is considered a major reaction.

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