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Skin Prick Test

What is a Skin Prick Test?

Skin prick allergy testing is a quick and reliable test for the diagnosis of food and environmental allergies. A panel of potential allergens are placed on the patient’s skin in either the form of a liquid protein extract or as the fresh food source. Subsequently, a small, and relatively painless, scratch is made to ensure contact of the allergen with the top layer of skin.

Most people barely feel this test, but it is natural that parents and children alike may feel a little anxious in preparation for the Skin Prick Test. It is recommended that parents should be ready to hold their child safely and comfortably, or even distract their child if necessary. The most important part is ensuring that the area for testing is not occluded in any way.

In the interests of safety and patient care, our clinic limits the number of Skin Prick Tests available to each patient. Clinical restrictions, specific care and protocols will be discussed in your appointments.

For certain Skin Prick Tests, the patient is required to supply their own allergens as we cannot keep them in the clinic. These allergens include: fruits, vegetables or legumes (such as lentils and chickpeas). Please contact the admin team a couple of days before your appointment to discuss these options.

Skin prick tests take a couple of minutes to perform and are left to develop for fifteen minutes. An allergy response shows as a wheal next to the allergen mark. These wheals are then measured and the results discussed with Professor Lack.

Why do I need a skin prick test?

Skin Prick Testing is an effective, and almost instantaneous, treatment that can be used to measure the body’s reaction to specific allergenic substances. They are an essential method of allergy diagnosis, required to verify blood results, clinical presentations and help authorise the performance of supervised feeds in clinic.

Patients who transfer to our clinic for a second opinion, will be required to take further or secondary Skin Prick Tests. Results can differ (such as the allergic display of wheal sizes) and the basis of our diagnosis, treatment and plans for future management are required to be conducted from our own testing to ensure the very best of client care and consistency.

How long does it take?

Skin Prick Tests take a couple of minutes to perform and are left to develop for fifteen minutes, making them a quick and reliable diagnostic tool. Please ensure clothing is loose and comfortable and provides easy access to the thigh (for most paediatric Skin Prick Tests) or the forearm (for older children, adolescent and adult Skin Prick Tests).

The tests are performed by the Nurse Specialist. Results are exclusively discussed with Professor Gideon Lack.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

It is imperative that patients do not take antihistamines prior to the tests as this will invalidate the test’s findings.

Additionally, longer acting antihistamines, such as Fexofenadine, Cetirizine and Loratidine, must be avoided for five days prior to your appointment. Shorter acting antihistamines such as Chlorphenamine (common brand name Piriton) must be avoided for 48 hours prior to the appointment.

Prepare your child by explaining what the tests involve. It is important to note that there are no needles used in Skin Prick Testing. The best way to prepare your child is to explain that although the test will be mostly painless, they may feel a little “pinch” or “scratch”. It is natural for children to feel nervous or anxious but as long as they are prepared, our team will keep them calm and assured to make sure that everything goes smoothly. If in doubt, it is recommended to bring toys and videos to help distract your child.