What to Expect from Your Skin Prick Test

Apr 02, 2024
What to Expect from Your Skin Prick Test
Skin prick tests are one of the best methods for detecting and diagnosing allergies and allergy-related conditions. Here, we’ll explore why it’s performed and what to expect during this allergy testing procedure.

One of the best ways to know if you’re allergic to a substance is to have a skin prick test done. It’s an inexpensive way to test for allergies that provide immediate results. Your skin is simply pricked with possible allergens, and if you’re allergic to the substance, a reddish bump appears. 

At the Allergy and Asthma Institute of Southeast Michigan, allergist Chad W. Mayer, DO, FAAAAI, FAAP, and the rest of our team offer skin prick tests as a part of our comprehensive allergy testing. In this blog, we review everything you need to know about this allergy testing method.

How skin prick tests detect allergies

When something you’re allergic to (an allergen) enters your body, your immune system jumps into action to attack what it perceives to be harmful by sending out antibodies. When proteins from the allergen bind with antibodies, your body releases a series of chemicals that contribute to telltale signs of allergic reactions, such as:

  • Escaped fluid from blood vessels, causing redness and swelling
  • Increased mucus production, causing a runny nose and watery eyes
  • Stimulated nerve endings, causing hives and itching

In severe cases, allergic reactions can lead to a drop in blood pressure and swollen airways.

A skin prick test allows a very small amount of an allergen under the surface of your skin. If you’re allergic to it, your immune system will come to your rescue, causing a visible reaction that lets us know if you’re allergic or not. 

Skin prick tests can be used to diagnose several different allergies and allergy-related conditions like hay fever (rhinitis), dermatitis (eczema), food allergies, penicillin allergy, or insect venom allergies.

What happens during a skin prick test?

Before any allergy testing, our team sits down with you and discusses all your symptoms and what you think is triggering them. This process helps us narrow down what allergens to use during the skin prick test. 

When it comes time for the allergy testing, we may test for as few as three allergens or as many more. It simply depends on you as an individual. The skin prick test is typically performed either on your back or your inner arm, and it should take up to 15 minutes for your skin to show signs of an allergic reaction.

We start by dipping the applicator into the allergen then gently prick the skin. A very small amount of the allergen is allowed to seep into your skin to avoid a severe reaction. We then take note of each allergen and its subsequent results. The scratch test hurts much less than a mosquito bite.  The reactions on the skin do not progress to systemic or severe reactions. 

What to do with your results

Before you leave our office, our team walks you through all the details of your skin prick test results. If your skin doesn’t react to the substance, you’re not allergic to it. However, any type of red bump indicates an allergy, and the larger the bump, the more sensitive you are to it. 

Skin prick tests allow us to cater a treatment plan that will work best for you. Treatment may include immunotherapy and other medications or dietary changes. 

To learn more about skin prick tests or our other allergy testing methods, schedule an appointment by calling our office at 248-363-3232 or booking online today.