According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergic reaction is one of the most common, and often overlooked, health conditions that impacts children. If you've recently noticed your child is exhibiting some of the classic signs of an allergic reaction, including watery eyes, sneezing, hives, or a runny nose, chances are you want to pinpoint the cause of these uncomfortable symptoms. One of the fastest and most effective diagnostic methods is a puncture or prick test. If you're scheduling an appointment to have your child tested for allergies, here are a few questions you might have.
How Do I Prepare My Child for the Test?
The preparation for the percutaneous allergy test actually begins a few days before you head to the doctor's office. Your pediatrician will advise you to stop giving your child their over-the-counter antihistamines a few days before the test. This will ensure your child has a noticeable, although minor, reaction to the allergens introduced in the test.
In the days before the test, speak with your child about what is going to happen. Explain to them that the test will hurt just a little but that the pain isn't bad, and they will be okay. Additionally, because the testing will take several minutes to perform, and it will take quite a while to actually get the results, you should consider bringing along a tablet, smartphone, a book, or something else to distract your child.
What Is the Puncture Test Like?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average puncture test takes around 20 to 40 minutes to complete. During this time, the doctor will on average introduce approximately 40 different allergens to your child's skin. The doctor will begin about asking about your child's symptoms, any medications your child is taking, and any substances you suspect are causing an allergic reaction.
During the test, the doctor will ask you to keep your child on your lap or stay near, just in case they get scared. The nurse will also ask your child to put on a hospital gown, which will allow them better access to the testing area. Next, the nurse will clean your child's back with alcohol. The nurse will then use a marker to create several "X's" on your child's back in a grid pattern.
The nurse will then introduce a different allergen to each mark. Finally, using a lancet, or a small, sterile blade, the nurse will gently scratch each mark. This will help ensure there is a more noticeable allergic reaction because the allergen will penetrate the skin. The lancet scratches are not painful, but this doesn't mean your child won't react negatively. This will why the doctor will want you holding or child or at least very close to them to provide comfort.
Distracting your child with a book or tablet is a great way to keep them calm during the test.
Once all of the allergens are introduced, the nurse and doctor will watch for reactions. Typically, the reactions will come in the form of red bumps that look like mosquito bumps. The nurse will chart the reactions. Once the test is over, the doctor will provide you with a list of everything your child is allergic to and what you as a parent can do to help prevent allergic reactions.
For example, if your child is severely allergic to cats, the doctor might suggest an over-the-counter antihistamine. Your doctor might also recommend immunotherapy, prescription medications, or lifestyle changes. At this point, feel free to ask any questions if you don't fully understand the results of the tests.
A puncture test is one of the fastest and most effective ways to help you understand your child's allergy symptoms. If you're concerned your child might be suffering from allergies, don't hesitate to contact a doctor, such as one at Premier Surgical Associates, to discuss your options.