We all have experienced some form of skin allergy in our lifetime. Be it a patch of hives on the back of our hand or the redness on our cheek, be it breakouts or dark patches. Many times people know what they are allergic to, hence when they get a reaction, they go back and check the products they used. But most of us live life on the carefree side, just winging it without knowing our own bodies. And that can be a potential hazard, especially when we use all these makeup, beauty, and skincare products extensively, exposing our skin to potential allergens without even realizing it.
So here’s to making sure that doesn’t happen anymore. Here’s to the advantages of getting a skin allergy test to determine your skincare. Because an informed individual is a successful one!
What Is a Skin Allergy Test?
Skin Allergy Test, also known as Allergy Skin Test, is a way to identify the cause of your allergy. You can determine what substance or substances you are allergic to, and along with your medical history, the dermatologist can then conclude the exact cause of your allergic symptoms.
Some of the most common allergens are pollen, dust, mold, peanuts, dander, and bee stings. They end up causing several skin allergies in individuals, with symptoms varying from mild itchiness to rashes as well as nausea and breathing difficulties. Getting an Allergy Skin Test keeps you on top of your game when it comes to these symptoms. These tests are reliable, rapid, specific, sensitive, and safe. They are also not very expensive.
Once the allergens have been identified, your dermatologist helps you develop a treatment plan, gives you a list of ingredients to avoid, and supplies you with a set of symptom-managing pointers.
When to Get Tested?
Skin Allergy tests are pretty good to determine a number of health issues — from dermatitis to asthma, food allergies to hay fever. So there are really no criteria as such. However, you must go for a skin allergy test immediately if you have been getting reactions on your skin or body, without any specific reason to pinpoint. Look out for these symptoms which are common allergic reactions:
- Chronic cough, wheezing
- Trouble breathing
- Water eyes
- Swelling of face, throat, or tongue
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramping
- Weak pulse or dizziness
- Pale skin
- Skin irritation and itchiness
There are some scenarios where your doctor may discourage you from taking the test:
- If you are extremely sensitive to certain substances
- If you are on any medication that may interfere with the test results — like antidepressants, antihistamines, heartburn pills, etc.
- If you have any severe skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema, etc.
Types of Skin Allergy Tests:
1. Skin Prick Test
The most common test for allergies, this one helps in identifying any mold, dust, pet dander, pollen, mites, or food allergies.
How is it done?
- Your skin is pricked with about 10 to 50 potential allergy-causing substances
- Or, they leave the allergen extract on your bare skin after puncturing the surface lightly, so that the liquid seeps in.
- You are made to wait 10-15 minutes to note any reactions.
- If you are allergic to any of the substances exposed, then there may be wheals (raised spots) or a rash in the area.
2. Intradermal Skin Test
This test is performed mostly when your skin prick test results come out inconclusive.
How is it done?
- A small amount of allergen is injected into the outer layer of your skin.
- The patch is examined after 15 mins.
- This test is also recommended to detect any insect sting, airborne irritant, and medication allergies.
3. Patch Test
Patch tests help identify causes of skin allergies, eg. contact dermatitis.
How is it done?
- The allergen patch is put on your skin and wrapped in a bandage.
- It is left there for a total of 48 hours.
- At the end of this 2-day period, the bandage is unwrapped to check for any rashes or reactions.
- In this test, 20-30 potential allergens are exposed.
- Since it is a 2-day test, it helps detect delayed allergic reactions.
How to Prepare for your Skin Allergy Testing?
Skin allergy testing is minimally invasive. However, there are some things you need to prepare for beforehand:
- Carry your medical history file with you as the doctor may ask you about it before performing the skin allergy test.
- Stop taking any antihistamines at least 7 days before your scheduled test. They may interfere with your immune system’s natural response to the allergens. Also, disclose any other medication you are on to your doctor before you take the test.
- Any harsh skin care product or treatment may irritate your skin, so it is recommended that you don’t try new products or get a new treatment before your skin allergy test.
What to Do After your Skin Allergy Test?
- In case you develop any itching or marks at the site of testing, don’t worry. They usually fade in a few hours.
- In any case, your doctor may prescribe a mild cortisone ointment for the area.
- If you have taken a patch test, then don’t wet the bandage until the result day.
- Once the results are out, schedule an appointment with your doctor to plan the future course of action.
Advantages of Getting a Skin Allergy Test
- Diagnose Health Issues
A skin allergy test helps detect several health problems that may otherwise take years to start showing symptoms. This includes issues like eczema, allergic asthma, hay fever, etc.
- Detect Allergies
The tests help in giving you a list of things you are allergic to. And many of them are so common that we may be using them in our everyday life without giving it a second thought, even as we go on sneezing. Eg. pollens, dust, preservatives, fragrances, latex, etc.
- Medication Allergies
Skin allergy tests also help you determine if you are allergic to certain medications, which helps you in the long run immensely. For eg., many people are allergic to penicillin but don’t realize it until they are administered the antibiotic and start showing a major reaction.
- Begin Treatments
Skin allergy tests are sometimes prerequisites to any skin treatment you may want. Before the dermatologist treats you or prescribes any medication, they rule out allergies. In case you are found allergic in the test then the dermatologist charts your treatment plan accordingly.
- Get a List to Avoid
Once you have gotten your test results, and are found allergic to certain substances, you are clear on your future skincare and self-care shopping. You are now equipped with the knowledge of your allergens and can read the labels of products to avoid them. You can also avoid triggering substances, be it in food dyes or metallic jewelry.
- Start Allergen Immunotherapy or Invest in an EpiPen
The greatest advantage of getting a skin allergy test is that it helps you work towards curing them, if possible. Many seasonal allergies like pollens are inevitable, but using immunotherapy, you can slowly become desensitized to the allergen. Your body is exposed to small quantities of the allergen regularly until it begins to adjust, so the severity of your reaction decreases gradually.
If your allergic reaction is too serious, like breathing difficulties or swollen throat/tongue, then you can invest in an EpiPen with your doctor’s approval. This medical device injects epinephrine into your system if you ever have a reaction, to temporarily give you relief until you find medical assistance.
- Determine your Skincare
Once you have determined your allergens, it becomes easy to plan your skincare routine. It becomes easier to pick out the products. We suggest that if you have many allergies, sensitive skin and frequent allergic reactions then try natural skincare products. Of course, you will have to check the label for any potential allergens for you, but natural skincare products are free of artificial preservatives, synthetic fragrances, and harsh chemicals.
If you are already planning on taking a skin allergy test, then good for you! It’s going to help you clear up a lot of self-care and skincare doubts. And then, it would be great if you stuck to natural skincare products like natural moisturizers, natural serums, natural cleansers, natural masks, etc to soothe and nourish your skin. Begin this journey with Savarnas Mantra, where we are all about natural and cruelty-free skincare!