What is skin testing for allergies? – Julia The most common way to test for allergies is on the skin, usually the forearm or the back. In a typical skin test (also called a scratch test), a doctor or nurse will place a tiny bit of an allergen (such as pollen or food) on the skin, then prick the outer layer of skin or make a small scratch on the skin. The allergist may repeat this, testing for several allergens in one visit. This can be a little uncomfortable, but not painful. If a child reacts to one of the allergens, the skin will swell a little in that area. The doctor will be able to see if a reaction happens within about 15 minutes. The swelling usually goes down within about 30 minutes to a few hours. Other types of skin testing include injecting allergens into the skin or taping allergens to the skin for 48 hours. With a skin test, an allergist can check for these kinds of allergies: environmental, such as mold, pet dander, or tree pollen food, such as peanuts or eggs medicines, such as penicillin Some medicines (such as antihistamines) can interfere with skin testing, so check with the doctor to see if your child's medications need to be stopped before the test is done. While skin testing is useful and helpful, sometimes more tests (like blood tests or food challenges) also must be done to see if a child is truly allergic to something. While skin tests are usually well tolerated, in rare instances they can cause a more serious allergic reaction. This is why skin testing must always be done in an allergist's office, where the doctor is prepared to handle a reaction. Back to Articles Related Articles Word! Skin Test If you think that you might have allergies, a special doctor called an allergist can help figure out what you are allergic to by giving you a skin test. Read More Allergies Your eyes itch, your nose is running, you're sneezing, and you're covered in hives. The enemy known as allergies has struck again. Read More Blood Test: Immunoglobulins (IgA, IgG, IgM) Immunoglobulins (antibodies in the blood) can give doctors important information about the immune system, especially relating to infection or autoimmune disease. Read More Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities Find more than 30 articles in English and Spanish about all aspects of food allergies in children. Read More How Do Doctors Test for Allergies? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More Allergies Explore more than 20 articles in English and Spanish about all aspects of allergies in children. Read More How Do Doctors Test for Food Allergies? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More All About Allergies Millions of Americans, including many kids, have an allergy. Find out how allergies are diagnosed and how to keep them under control. Read More Blood Test: Immunoglobulin E (IgE) The immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood test is often done as part of an initial screen for allergies. High IgE levels also may indicate a parasitic infection. Read More Blood Test: Allergen-Specific Immunoglobulin E (IgE) This blood test can check for some kinds of allergies. Read More What's the Difference Between a Food Allergy and a Food Intolerance? Food allergies and food intolerances, like lactose intolerance, are not the same. Find out more. Read More Food Allergies Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness. Read More Food Allergies Struggling with strawberries? Petrified of peanuts? Sorry you ate shellfish? Maybe you have a food allergy. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Food Allergies: How to Cope With food allergies, preventing a reaction means avoiding that food entirely. But sometimes allergens can be hidden in places you don't expect. Here are tips on living with a food allergy. Read More Allergy Testing Doctors use several different types of allergy tests, depending on what a person may be allergic to. Find out what to expect from allergy tests. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.