With the onset of the allergy season, allergens are present almost everywhere. Especially at this time of the year, most allergy symptoms get worse, and sometimes it doesn’t get better unless you see a doctor.
Physicians specializing in allergies use allergy tests to find particular foods and environmental factors that trigger specific allergies. Allergists generally use a blood or skin testing as their standard diagnostic procedure to determine allergy triggers. But this leaves many of us in a dilemma as to which type of allergy testing is better – skin or blood. A simple answer is that each of these tests has advantages and disadvantages.
Similarities between skin tests and blood tests
Both blood tests and skin tests work in a similar way to diagnose allergies by detecting antibodies that are known as Immunoglobulin E(IgE). These antibodies live in the patient’s skin and blood; they trigger an allergic signal. It allows the allergist to judge which factors are causing the allergy. The only difference is that skin tests detect IgE on the skin, while blood tests detect IgE in the blood. Do reach out to experts at https://earandallergyclinic.com/allergy-test-singapore.
Advantages of skin prick tests
Skin tests are generally not sensitive compared to blood tests because there is a higher chance of detecting allergies that might get missed in a blood test. One more advantage of skin tests is that they require less waiting time than blood tests. Where blood reports take about a week or two, skin tests have a typical wait time of merely 15 to 20 minutes. Physicians can also better select a broader range of allergens with skin prick tests. On the other hand, blood tests have limitations of only those specific allergens that laboratories have tested for – that usually is quite a smaller amount in contrast to skin tests. Lastly, skin tests are more economical than blood tests.
Advantages of blood tests
Although it might seem that skin testing is the wiser choice, there are a few advantages of blood tests that skin prick tests do not provide. Patients undergoing skin tests must stop taking antihistamines at least a week before the test because the skin becomes less reactive due to antihistamines. However, on the other hand, medications do not affect blood tests. Patients who suffer from severe allergies can easily undergo blood tests without interrupting their medication.
Additionally, patients who have sensitive skin or suffer from dermatographia or hives also have a chance to get false positive skin test results, thus reducing the reliability of skin tests. Blood testing also benefits patients suffering from eczema.
Blood tests, unlike skin tests, offer component testing for food allergies, determining the exact protein that is allergic and predicting the severity of the allergic reaction caused.
Which test is better?
When it comes to allergy testing, no test is perfect for all. The best way out is to consult a good and well-experienced allergist.
A knowledgeable allergist can determine which type of testing (blood and skin tests) is best for each patient.