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Why Skin Testing Is Important to Really Understand Your Allergies

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and of those, many have asthma as well. An allergy attack can be fatal if prompt medical attention isn’t given, so knowing your potential allergy triggers could save your life. 

At Millenium Park Medical Associates in Chicago, Illinois, our expert team can perform skin testing to help identify which allergens cause your most severe reactions. Once you know what could trigger an allergy or asthma attack, you can take steps to avoid those triggers for a safer, healthier life.   

Skin testing basics

Skin testing, also known as the skin prick test, can test up to 40 substances at a time. The skin on a patch of your back will be divided into a grid of tiny squares that correspond with a chart. Each square of skin will be pricked with a very fine needle coated with a specific allergen. Then we ask you to wait about 15 minutes for any reaction to show up.

The reaction in each square will show how allergic you are to that specific substance. After 15 minutes, if the area turns slightly red, there is a mild allergy. If a bunch of red bumps or a large welt appears, the allergy is more significant. It’s important to let us know if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any substance before we administer your skin prick test. 

This type of skin allergy testing can determine your sensitivity to particular allergens. Your provider will choose which sets of allergens to test you for based on your symptoms, family history, and environment. We can do a skin allergy test for food allergens, outdoor and indoor allergens, insect allergens, pollen allergens, and even medication allergens. 

After your reaction to each allergen is recorded, we go over your results with you. In most cases, common allergic reactions can be controlled with avoidance or with medication such as antihistamines. If you have a dangerous allergy, we may prescribe an epi-pen and show you how to use it.  

Indoor allergens

Allergies to something in your indoor environment can cause chronic symptoms. Indoor allergens include:

Outdoor allergens

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, or if your allergies are seasonal, your triggers could be one or more of the following outdoor allergens:

Food allergens

Food allergies are extremely common. Some people outgrow food allergies, but many do not. Food allergies can cause significant stomach upset, skin reactions such as hives, or more dangerous symptoms like anaphylaxis.

Allergy treatment

There are many different ways to treat allergies. We may recommend antihistamines or the avoidance of certain foods, pets, or environments. If you are allergic to a medication, you may need to wear an alert bracelet. For some, allergies can be treatable by slowly exposing your body to more and more of the allergen to build up a resistance. 

To learn more about allergy testing and treatment, call our office at 720-928-5446.

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