A prick test is a common procedure to determine an allergy. It is a skin test that can be carried out very easily in a doctor’s surgery and takes only about half an hour. It is usually done on the forearm on the side of the palm of the hand.
When the test is carried out, various possible allergens, i.e. substances that could be the cause of the allergy, are applied to the skin of the person being tested side by side. Then a minimal incision is made in the middle of each applied sample with a lancet, a kind of small sharp knife. If an allergic reaction occurs, redness and wheals appear on the skin.
The term “wheals” refers to punctiform skin elevations. In addition, for each prick test, a sample of common salt is applied as a negative control and a sample of histamine as a positive control. This means that with common salt there is normally no skin reaction and with histamine there is always a wheal. In this way, the different reactions to the other sample allergens can be compared with each other and their intensity downgraded.
Which doctor does the allergy test?
Since many people are affected by allergies, there are more and more doctors nowadays who can perform an allergy test. Depending on the type of allergy test, there are different numbers of medical specialists or specialties offering this type of allergy test. Specialists in allergy tests are mainly the allergologists, i.e. the medical specialists who mainly treat patients with various allergies.
Furthermore, various allergy tests can be carried out by doctors specialising in pulmonology, i.e. pulmologists (lung specialists). If it is a simple allergy test, such as a blood test, this can also be carried out by a normal family doctor. If there is a suspicion of an existing allergy and the desire for an allergy test, the general practitioner can be asked about it in all cases. If necessary, the general practitioner will refer the person concerned further if the allergy is too specific and special equipment is required for the allergy test.
Is it possible to do an allergy test against medication?
An allergy test against drugs is a very complex procedure, which is always carried out in a clinic under medical supervision. The test is usually only carried out if there is a specific suspicion of an allergy to a drug. The person concerned is given the medication in the way it is normally administered, i.e. usually either as a tablet or as an injection into a vein.
The body’s reaction to the medication is then observed and, in the event of an allergic reaction, immediate countermeasures are taken. This type of allergy test is called a provocation test. Unfortunately, there is usually no lower-risk method of testing an allergy to a drug.
As a rule, negative exposure is preferred, i.e. allergy testing for a drug for which no allergic reaction is expected. If an allergy to a drug is detected, this is noted in an allergy passport. Here doctors can find detailed information about the medication so that it can be avoided in the future. When testing for allergies to medicines, it should always be remembered that serious allergic reactions can occur. Therefore it is important to think carefully before doing this test, if it is really useful and necessary.