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Testing for allergies is used to determine whether a person has an allergy and what substance is causing their symptoms.

Allergy tests

  • Skin prick testing involves placing a small amount of substances you may be allergic to (allergens) on the skin, pricking the skin and watching for a reaction. The area will become red and swollen if you are allergic to the substance.
  • Intradermal skin testing involves placing a small amount of possible allergens under the skin using a needle. Usually the area will become red and swollen if you are allergic to the substance. This test may be used if no allergens can be found using the skin prick test.
  • Blood testing may be used if you have skin problems and/or your Doctor believes you may have a strong reaction to skin testing.
  • Patch skin testing is used to determine if you have an allergy which has been caused by direct contact with an allergen. This test involves placing small amounts of allergens on the skin and covering with a watertight bandage for several days. Later the bandage is removed and the skin is examined for an allergic reaction.
  • Food challenge. If an Allergies Specialist suspects that a person may have outgrown a food allergy a food challenge may be undertaken. The person is admitted to hospital and challenged with different foods under specialist care with adrenaline close at hand.

How to prepare

Certain medications (e.g. antihistamines, antidepressants, some heartburn medications) can interfere with skin tests. Let your Doctor know about any medications you are taking. Your Doctor may suggest a blood test instead of a skin test if you are unable to stop taking these medication/s or if you have a skin disorder (e.g. eczema), as the skin test needs to be done on clear skin.


DISCLAIMER: This information is an educational aid only. It can not be intended to replace medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, nurse or naturopath before following any medical regimen to see whether it is safe and effective for you.