Should I test my child for allergies?

Typically, allergy testing is done to determine or verify the cause of an allergic reaction. If Baby is showing symptoms, an allergy test is a non-invasive way to check for an allergic reaction.   

Even if you suffer from allergies, that doesn’t mean that your child will, and they isn&;t likely to be tested based only on their parents’ medical history. Instead, the decision to allergy test a child often falls to the primary care doctor. If there is an allergic reaction, he or she is likely to refer you to an allergist who is qualified to perform tests related to allergic reactions.

There are three basic types of allergy tests: 

  1. Skin test: The most common form of allergy testing is a “prick” or “puncture” test. These tests are minorly invasive and give quick results. The test involves placing a small amount of the allergen on the skin, then pricking or scratching the skin underneath to see if redness, swelling, or itching occurs.
    Another common contact dermatitis (skin allergy) test performed on children is a “patch” test. It’s what it sounds like. The child wears a patch containing the allergen for 48 hours to see if localized irritation occurs.
  2. Blood test: For most allergies, a skin test shows everything healthcare providers need to know. However, there are some medications and skin conditions which could interfere with an allergists ability to get accurate results from a skin test. In a blood test, a lab will add a drop of the allergen to a sample of the patient’s blood and then measure the number of antibodies that attack it. 
  3. Elimination diet test: In an elimination diet, one ingredient at a time is removed from an individual’s diet to see if their health improves. This isn’t always the most accurate way to detect an allergy, and is typically only possible with food based allergies, but in some cases it’s the best option. 

What do you do with the results?

For starters, you avoid the allergen. Knowing what to avoid means that you can make the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent uncomfortable or life-threatening reactions.

Depending on the severity, your child’s healthcare provider might prescribe one of several medications to relieve their symptoms. It’s also possible that an allergen may be unavoidable, in which case your allergist might prescribe allergy shots. These are shots that contain a small amount of the affecting allergen, which when administered over time can reduce the body’s negative reaction to it.

Food allergies can present problems for a lot of people, but identifying allergies is the first step to managing them, and staying safe.

  •  “Allergy Testing in Children and Infants.” Allergist. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 2014. Web.
  • “Allergy Testing.” Allergist. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 2014. Web.
  • “Allergy Diagnosis.” AAFA. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. October 2015. Web.
  • “Skin Testing – The Mainstay of Allergy Testing.” American Academy of Pediatrics. November, 2015. Web.
  • “Allergy Skin Tests.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. April, 2014. Web.
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