Allergic reactions can be confusing for sufferers. One time a rash can be mild and the next time it’s severe. And sometimes a reaction comes out of nowhere – you seem to react to something that’s never bothered you before.
Making matters worse, some reactions come only after you’re exposed to a combination of allergens. This means you’re not just trying to think back on one possible cause, but many. This can be nearly impossible without some help.
To help them make a proper diagnosis, doctors often use skin or blood testing to measure allergic reactions. These tests are important because they can identify all the allergens that a person is sensitized to. Many people believe they’re only sensitized to a single allergen: pollen, for example. However, the reality is that most people with allergies are sensitized to many different allergens.
These allergens work together to cause a reaction, and a reaction only occurs once a certain level of total allergen is reached. To make this more clear, imagine someone who’s allergic to dust mites, dogs and pollen. They have a dog and dust mites in their house, but not enough to trigger an allergic reaction. However, once they step outside and encounter some pollen, they reach an allergen level high enough for a reaction to occur.
This person might think that the pollen alone is causing reaction, but the truth is that there are many other allergens involved. If you want to learn more about how this concept works, check out this video:
Types of Tests
Skin tests are a well-known way to determine a patient’s allergy profile. With skin tests, the doctor will prick the patient with dozens of small pins, each covered in a diluted drop of an allergen. If a bump or rash appears where a pin went in, the doctor can conclude that an allergy is the cause.
One downside of skin testing is that patients must stop taking any allergy medication for a week or so prior to testing. This is because the medication can interfere with the skin reaction, making the allergy appear less severe than it really is.
Blood allergy testing is another option. Rather than causing a direct skin reaction, blood testing simply requires a sample of blood, which any doctor can draw. The blood sample is sent to a lab, where scientists measure its reaction to different allergens. The lab can test for many allergens with a single blood sample. Because the test measures allergy with a blood sample rather than a skin reaction, the allergy sufferer can stay on allergy medications before, during and after the test.
Finding the Answer
Testing is the key to long-term allergy relief, but sometimes you want an answer right away. While only your doctor can help you decide whether or not to test, there are some things you can do to get relief before seeing them.
If you need relief now, a remote doctor is a good option for a quick opinion. You can submit an image of your skin condition using a smartphone, and an actual dermatologist will review the image. The dermatologist will then provide a detailed review of your case and send you possible short-term treatment choices, such as over the counter medicine. To learn more about how this process works, click below!