Going In for Allergy Testing? Ask Your Doctor These 4 Questions

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Something has really made you feel itchy, irritated, fatigued, or downright sick — but what could the problem be? If you don't show signs of a viral or bacteria infection, you could very well be suffering from an allergy to some common everyday trigger. In that case, allergy testing could clarify your situation quickly and easily. Here are four questions you'll want to ask your doctor or allergist when you request this form of diagnostic care.

1. Am I a Good Candidate for Patch Testing?

The simplest and least invasive form of allergy diagnosis involves a technique called patch testing. Up to 30 different patches, each of them containing a different allergen, are attached to the skin all at once. Any patches that cause skin reactions can help to pinpoint the exact nature of your allergy. Patch testing works best for allergens that cause contact dermatitis. If you think you may be allergic to metals, topical medication, latex, or fragrances, you should probably undergo this form of testing.

2. What Should I Expect From the Patch Testing Process?

Your medical practitioner will first make sure that a large portion of your back is clean and dry before adhering the patches to it. You'll wear the patches for 48 hours, taking care not to get them sweaty or wet. When the patches are removed, your practitioner will check for raised, itchy, or reddened welts. These welts indicate an allergic reaction.

3. Why Would I Need Two Rounds of Patch Testing?

Even if your first round of patch testing reveals much about your condition, your practitioner may still recommend a second round of testing 72 to 96 hours after the first round. That's because these tests can't offer 100 percent accuracy. You may have shown a false positive to a particular allergen, for example, for the real allergen somehow failed to provoke a response. Performing a second patch test helps to confirm the results of the first round or yield valuable new information about your allergy.

4. What Kinds of Allergies Require Other Testing Methods?

Don't fret if patch testing fails to reveal the source of your allergic reactions, or if you can't receive patch testing services due to underlying skin issues or medication use. You may simply need to make use of some other testing method. For instance, skin prick testing or blood testing is typically the method of choice for detecting food, pollen, or mold allergies.

Whether you use patch testing or another kind of allergy testing to discover the root of your symptoms, rest assured that professional diagnostic measures can help you take the right steps toward controlling or preventing future discomfort. Call your local provider of allergy testing services today!