Why are allergy skin tests done?

Published On: Feb 12 2014 02:17:54 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 25 2014 05:50:27 PM EST

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Information from allergy tests may help your doctor develop an allergy treatment plan that includes allergen avoidance, medications or allergy shots (immunotherapy).

Allergy skin tests are widely used to help diagnose allergic conditions, including:

Skin testing can be used for people of all ages, including infants. Sometimes, however, skin tests aren't recommended. Your doctor may advise against skin testing if you:

Blood tests (in vitro IgE antibody tests) can be useful for those who shouldn't undergo skin tests. Blood tests aren't done as often as skin tests because they can be less sensitive than skin tests and are more expensive.

In general, allergy skin tests are most reliable for diagnosing allergies to airborne substances, such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites. Skin testing may help diagnose food allergies. But, because food allergies can be complex, you may need additional tests or procedures.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/allergy-tests/basics/why-its-done/prc-20014505