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How Do Doctors Test for Allergies?

The doctor suspects that my son has allergies and recommended that we get him tested. What kind of tests should we expect?
- Polly

The two main types of allergy tests are skin tests and blood tests:

  • With a skin prick or scratch test, the skin is scratched or pricked with a tiny bit of liquid extract of an allergen (such as pollen or food). If the area swells up and becomes red (like a mosquito bite), the test is said to be positive, meaning that the child is allergic to that substance. Skin testing allows the doctor to see within about 15 minutes if a child is allergic to the substances tested.
  • A blood test may be used if a skin test can't be done. It takes a few days to get the results of blood tests.

Talk to your doctor or allergist about the specific test that will be done.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012