How are allergy tests done?

There are 3 kinds of allergy tests:

  • skin test
  • blood test
  • challenge test

Who performs the test?


Since allergy tests can, in rare cases, cause an anaphylactic reaction, it's important to have the tests administered by an allergy specialist. These include an ear, nose, and throat, or ENT, specialist or a pulmonary specialist, as well as some general doctors who know what to look for and how to treat such an emergency. It's also important to stay at the specialist's office for at least 30 minutes after testing to ensure you don't have a reaction after leaving. An anaphylactic reaction can be life-threatening.

Are there tests I should avoid?

Some approaches to allergy testing are questionable. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and many other medical associations recommend avoiding the tests listed below. That's because they haven't been scientifically proven to work or else they don't work for allergy diagnosis. If your doctor suggests any of these tests, get a second opinion.

  • Cytotoxicity testing. In these tests, blood samples are placed on a slide next to allergens to see if the blood cells react to the allergens.
  • Urine autoinjection. In this procedure, a small amount of your urine is injected under your skin.
  • Skin titration. This is also known as the Rinkel method.This is a skin test where small, varying amounts of allergens are placed on the skin.
  • Provocation and neutralization testing. Similar to the Rinkel method, this test involves injecting small amounts of food allergens into the skin in varying quantities. Its goal is to determine the lowest dose of the allergen extract needed to suppress, or neutralize, symptoms.
  • Sublingual provocation and neutralization testing. In this test, drops of allergens are placed under the tongue.
  • IgG4 assay. This is a blood test for specific types of antibodies.