What are prick tests?
Prick tests, also known as allergy skin tests, are a series of tests performed on the skin in order to identify substances that may cause an allergic reaction in the patient. These tests are considered to be the ideal method for diagnosing possible allergies to substances, as it is a very safe and reliable process in terms of results.
What are prick tests?
Allergy skin tests are carried out by applying different allergens to different parts of the body -usually to the forearm, but sometimes also to the back- by means of a prick test.
In this way, once the allergen has been introduced into the body, the intensity or magnitude of the reaction to the allergen will indicate whether or not there is an allergy and the cause of the allergy. Thus, thanks to prick tests, it is possible to know exactly whether there is an allergy to drugs, pollens, mites, fungi, insects, tissues, dog or cat epithelia and many other substances.
These tests are carried out in the allergology department of the doctor’s office, in a single visit and without the need for the patient to stay more than a couple of hours in the office. Initially, the patient will be informed about the procedure, as well as the possible reactions that may occur during the course of the tests, such as itching or small hives at the exact spot where the puncture was performed.
Normally, the area where the puncture will be performed is on the patient’s forearm, so before performing the test, the area will be cleaned with alcohol, and once this has evaporated, the allergen will be applied to the skin.
During the process different allergens will be tested, so different punctures will be made about two centimeters apart. Thus, once the drop of allergen is placed on the skin, the technician will make a puncture through the drop and through the skin, into which a small fraction of the allergen sample will enter.
About a quarter of an hour after the puncture, the area is examined to identify the results.
The prick test can be used to know exactly if there is an allergy to drugs, mites…
Why is it performed?
Skin prick tests are mainly used to diagnose possible allergies by introducing a sample of allergen into the patient’s body. In these tests, the cause of the allergy is discovered, as well as the possible severity of the allergy.
Preparation for a prick test
The prick tests are performed in the consultation room, in a single visit and without the need for the patient to stay more than one or two hours in the consultation room.
The patient should fast before the test and should avoid taking medications such as steroids or antihistamines, as these can interfere and mask the results. In addition, the test should not be performed when the patient is pregnant, as reactions affecting the fetus may occur.
What does the test feel like?
In this case, we are talking about a fairly simple test that under normal conditions will hardly affect the patient, who will feel slight pricks during the punctures and who may subsequently notice some itching in the area.