Allergy tests are only usually needed for severe allergies, or when it’s difficult to work out what’s causing a particular allergy. These tests should be interpreted by a trained clinician who knows what they’re looking for. At-home allergy tests aren’t usually considered accurate or reliable.
Some of the common types of allergy tests used by clinicians are:
- blood tests - these are used to help diagnose common allergies and involve taking a blood sample which is then analysed.
- skin prick testing - if you suspect you might be allergic to something specific, a drop of liquid that contains the potential allergen is placed onto your skin and then your skin is pricked
- patch tests - usually used for skin allergies (such as contact dermatitis), a patch is taped to your skin that contains the suspected allergen to check for reactions
- elimination diet - this is used for suspected food allergies and involves avoiding a food that is thought to be the cause of your allergy before reintroducing it under the careful supervision of a clinician
- challenge testing - this is used for food allergies and tests how you react to the suspected cause of your allergy by giving you the food you think you’re allergic to in gradually increasing amounts
Allergy testing should always be carried out under the supervision of a clinician who can advise on best practice, the most appropriate testing and who can monitor the results. This avoids misinterpretation of results that could lead to allergic reactions worsening or confusion around what is causing your allergic reaction.