There are two basic ways to test for allergies: 1) skin testing and 2) blood testing. The advantages of skin testing are that: 1) the results are seen immediately, 2) they are more sensitive than blood testing, and 3) they are less expensive to perform. The testing techniques that are used today for skin tests are almost completely painless. The prick testing technique uses a wand that has no needles (as seen in photo above).
Many allergens can be tested with a single application. This makes it more pleasant for children and the faint of heart. Results are seen within 15 minutes as a mosquito bite type of reaction that lasts for about one half hour.
Blood testing is saved for patients who have had anaphylactic reactions in the past, for those that cannot come off antihistamines, or for those who prefer blood testing.
ALLERGY DESENSITIZATION (ALLERGY SHOTS)
Allergy shots are used to help reduce allergic symptoms. It is reserved for patients that 1) have more chronic symptoms that are not easily treated with medication, 2) for those that have had side effects from the usual medicines, 3)to potentially cure the patient of specific allergies, and 4) for those that prefer to use less medication.
Recent studies have shown at least a 50% reduction in asthma developing in children who are receiving allergy desensitization early on in their course of allergic rhinitis.