Allergy Testing For Eczema: Quick Guide + 5 Top Tips
If you suffer from eczema, you’ve probably at one point considered allergy testing.
That 2nd random flare-up of the month once again raises the same question - WHAT ON EARTH IS MY TRIGGER?!
It’s the same question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point - and we know, it’s tiresome.
Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if this impossible to understand ‘trigger’ would just reveal itself?!
But whatdya down, it’s shy!
*Enter allergy testing*
Now it’s not an exact science, but allergy testing can be a great way of helping to figure out what sets off your skin. And at the very least, it’s another useful weapon in the battle against our most formidable foe - King Dermatitis of Itchyskinalot.
But don’t forget - whilst triggers can be allergic in nature, they can also just as easily be non-allergic. Stress or changes in weather for example are known to trigger flare ups. So allergy testing might not be your saviour - but don’t write it off yet, it still has plenty to offer.
In this article, you’ll find:
1) What is an allergy?
2) Who gets them
3) What is allergy testing?
4) Types of allergens
5) How allergy testing is performed
6) How to prepare
First off, what is an allergy?
An allergic reaction is an immune response to a substance to which a person has become sensitised to. Mostly allergens will be harmless, however in sensitised individuals it can cause the body to overreact.
Common examples of allergens are:
- Animal dander
- Certain foods (gluten, dairy for example)
In general allergies can be divided into two groups - immediate and delayed response.
Who gets allergies?
It’s uncertain at the moment why some people develop allergies and some don’t - however there are some factors which contribute towards a child developing an allergic disorder.
It’s more likely that a child will develop an allergic reaction should they be born into a family where parents or siblings also suffer - although the type of allergy doesn’t pass down the generations, but the predisposition to suffer does.
These people are known as ‘atopic individuals’.
What is allergy testing?
Allergy testing is a super duper fun exam that tests whether or not your body is allergic to a certain substance.
There are 3 different way this can be done:
1) Blood test
2) Skin test (scratch, intradermal and patch)
3) Elimination diet
An allergic reaction will occur when your body overreacts to a substance in your close environment.
Take Bob’s cat from next door for example - whilst your sister can stroke it till the cows come home, it might set you off with sneezing, a runny nose, itchiness - all the stuff we love.
Types of allergens
There are 3 different types to be aware of:
1) Contact allergens - in this instance, the substance must come into contact with your skin to produce a reaction. Think: soaps, detergents, jewelry, hair dyes etc.
2) Ingested allergens - occurs when someone overreacts to eating a certain food. Think: peanuts, milk or soy.
3) Inhaled allergens - When something comes into contact with the lungs, nose or throat. Think: dust mites, mold or pet dander.
How allergy testing is performed
This can tell whether or not the person has certain antibodies in their blood which could react to common substances that spark off allergies.
Blood tests can be particularly useful if they give back a negative result for a certain food as this is a fairly good indication an allergy doesn’t exist.
If the result is also strongly positive, this is a good sign that an allergy does exist - especially if there has been a similar history of such allergens within the family.
The issue is when the test result comes back as a low negative and isn’t definite either way. Lots of people with eczema will show this so unfortunately it doesn’t do much to shed any light on the situation - bugger!
These are split into:
Also called a skin prick test, this involves pricking a tiny amount of liquid onto the forearm to see whether it causes a reaction. Drops are placed onto the skin in diluted form and if a positive reaction occurs, the skin may turn red, inflamed or itchy.
Some of the common allergens tested for are:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
If the above proves inconclusive and no real winner emerges (this is frustratingly common) then the next step might be an intradermal test.
This is where a tiny amount of fluid is injected into the dermis layer of the skin. Trust us, it’s not as scary as it sounds!
Your doctor will then monitor your skin’s reaction for any adverse effects.
Specific to allergic contact dermatitis - this is where a doctor will place a number of known allergens onto patches then onto your back.
You will be monitored over a 48-96 hour window to see if anything not so lovely happens.
Pretty much as simple as it sounds.
Try cutting things from your diet one by one to see if your eczema improves. Or, cut a whole bunch (gluten, dairy, sugar etc) then reintroduce them one by one to see if you can nail down what is causing your flare ups.
It’s really difficult to do and takes tremendous will power (who knew dairy was in like EVERYTHING?!) but can be totally worth it if it helps to improve your quality of life over the long run.
How to prepare
There isn’t a whole lot you can do to prepare for an allergy test - just show up being your wonderful self and that should be enough.
Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medication before coming in (like antihistamines) but that will be specified directly by them.
Obviously allergy testing requires you to expose yourself for short periods to certain allergens - so red skin, itchiness (did we say we have a product for that?) and inflammation are to be expected.
However if symptoms persist, it may be worth seeing your doctor to confirm there isn't anything larger at play.
We did it - the rundown on allergy testing. Thanks for sticking with us.
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The yan-yee team
- Allergies. (2018). Link
- Ask the dietician - Immediate and delayed allergic reactions. (2011). Link
- Blood testing for allergies. (2020). Link
- Allergy skin tests. (2020). Link
- How to do an elimination diet and why. (2017). Link
- Allergy tests for eczema: Information for parents. (2016). Link
- Allergy and eczema. (n.d.). Link