Skin Prick Allergy Testing
This is the gold standard for identifying allergies. It is a safe, fast and virtually painless procedure which can be carried out from the age of 6 months old. We place small droplets of allergens onto the skin with a little scratch and within 15 minutes we have your test results ready for interpretation by our doctors. What we test for on the day will depend on the condition, known sensitivities and previous reactions.
The following allergens can be tested:
- Inhalant (airborne) allergens: tree pollen mix, silver birch pollen, grass pollen, dust mite, feathers, cat/dog/horse dander and mould (alternata & cladasporium).
- Foods: milk, egg, wheat, soya, potato, orange, strawberry, kiwi, chocolate and tomato.
- Nuts/Seeds (where appropriate): peanuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, sesame, pine nut, pistachio nut, pecan nut, cashew nut, sunflower seed.
- Fish/Shellfish (where appropriate): cod, mackerel, salmon, tuna, shrimp, lobster, crab, clam, mussels.
If you or your doctor wish you to be tested for something not on our list please contact us by e-mail. For example, if you bring a small sliver of fresh food, the leaf of a specific tree where sap can be squeezed out etc, then that can be tested directly. This is usually done for specific fish you suspect that you might have reacted to and we do not have it in allergy extract form.
PLEASE DO NOT TURN UP WITH A SHOPPING TROLLEY FULL OF THINGS YOU WANT TO BE TESTED FOR (it has happened!). Everything must be cleared with the clinic by e-mail beforehand.
Interpretation of results
A positive result is measured in millimetres of central wheal and outer flare (redness of skin). There are positive (histamine) and negative (saline) controls to ensure the accuracy of test result.
With inhalant allergens (such as dust mite, pollens, animal hair) the size of the wheal and flare is important but does not always reflect the symptoms. For example a patient will occasionally show a very large wheal and flare (say to dust mites) but not show many symptoms. Equally a relatively small reaction (say to cat hair) in someone only recently exposed to cats is usually very important as within a year of continuous exposure the allergic reaction will probably have increased significantly (as will the patient’s symptoms).
It’s easy to perform an allergy test, the skill lies in interpreting the result in the context of the patient's symptoms. Sometimes there is no link.