Whether they have a consistently runny nose or are breaking out in rashes, you may be concerned about possible allergy symptoms in your children. The key to treating potential allergies is to identify which substances may be affecting your kids and how. Luckily, allergists can help make this diagnosis through allergy testing. We’ll explore why and how children are tested for allergies in this brief article.
When Does Your Child Need Allergy Testing?
Different children may experience different potential allergy symptoms, so how can you know when it is time to have your child professionally tested?
Common allergy symptoms include:
- skin rashes
- trouble breathing
- sneezing, runny nose, or congestion
- itchy eyes
- upset stomach
While most of these symptoms are merely annoying and can be handled with over-the-counter allergy medications, you should consider testing when symptoms begin to interfere with your child’s sleep, diet, school attendance, or their general health.
When this happens, it is time to consult with an allergist about next steps.
What are the Different Kinds of Allergy Tests?
An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. During your child’s visit, the allergist will ask about their symptoms, as well as when and how long the issues have been occurring. They will also probably conduct a physical exam.
There are six possible allergy tests that allergists may give to your child depending on their symptoms and the suspected allergen. These are:
- The Skin Prick Test: An allergist will place a small amount of an allergen on the skin and then prick the skin. If the spot becomes red or itchy, this indicates an allergy. This test can be done for up to 50 different allergens. It is typically done on the inside of the arm or on the back.
- The Intradermal (Skin Injection) Test: This type of allergen test uses a needle to place a small amount of an allergen under the skin. If an allergy exists, a reaction will appear within 15 minutes.
- The Patch Test: If an allergist is concerned about your child’s rash or hives, they may place an allergen on your child’s skin for about 48 hours to determine if the allergen causes a reaction. Like the skin prick test, this is typically done on the arm or back and can test for 20 to 30 allergens.
- The Blood Test: Allergists may also take a blood sample to test for antibodies to certain allergens, including food. A higher level of antibodies will indicate a higher chance of an allergy to a particular substance.
- The Elimination Diet: If your child appears to have an allergy to a particular food item, this testing helps determine the exact cause by eliminating certain foods one at a time for several weeks. Then, you can reintroduce the food back into your child’s diet while an allergist monitors your child for an allergic reaction.
- The Food or Medication Challenge Test: If a blood or skin test has not proven conclusively that a child has a food or medication allergy, the allergist may conduct a food or medication challenge test, where they carefully watch your child as they eat a possible allergy food or take a medication slowly. Allergists only conduct this test at a doctor’s office or hospital so they can act quickly should an adverse reaction occur.
If you are seeking treatment for your child’s asthma or allergies, Columbia Allergy is here to help. Our providers take a patient-focused approach that views every person as an individual with unique challenges and goals. Contact us at any of our convenient locations in California, Oregon, Idaho, or Washington to learn more about how we can help.
This is not medical advice. Make sure to consult a medical professional for a diagnosis.