Skin prick tests are not painful. Young infants are not bothered by the actual testing, but may dislike having their arm kept still during the period of testing (about 5 minutes). Older children may be fearful of the tests and the allergy nurse will be very reassuring and explain to them that the test is not painful.
Allergy tests are safe and do not cause severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. If a large local reaction causes severe itching, we will offer the patient antihistamine syrup which rapidly relieves the discomfort. Rarely, symptoms of runny nose and eyes will occur and these symptoms are also easily treated by antihistamine.
Some patients may require blood tests. This procedure is performed by an experienced phlebotomist. To ease the discomfort of taking blood, we can apply a “numbing cream” as a surface anaesthetic prior to blood sampling. The cream (Emla) is applied to a small area of skin and then it is covered with a small clear dressing. The cream will be left on the skin for up to 1 hour. After 1 hour the cream will be wiped off. Emla cream numbs the skin so that the patient should not feel the needle being inserted. The cream is safe, but it should not be given if your child has had a previous adverse reaction to the cream.
Taking blood is extremely safe. Sometimes it may leave a small bruise which will rapidly improve within a couple of weeks
Babies may be more settled if they have the comfort of a pacifier, bottle, toy or teddy bear. Older children may bring along MP3 players to listen to music. Older children and teenagers are encouraged to lie down if in the past they have felt anxious or faint during medical testing.