How A Few Drops of Blood Can Test For Over 100 Allergens
Traditionally, patients have been tested for allergies through blood draws or skin tests. Skin tests come in a variety of forms. A skin prick test, also known as a puncture or scratch test, is usually performed on the forearm of adults and on the upper back of children. The test can scan for 40 different allergies by looking for an immediate reaction to certain substances. While the test uses needles, the needles barely penetrate the skin, so the test does not tend to be painful. It can, however, be itchy. Patients must wait approximately 15 minutes after the pricks for the clinician to observe the skin and determine which, if any, allergies the patient has.
Skin injection tests, often performed for suspected venom or penicillin allergies involve using a needle to inject some of the allergen into the skin. Like the skin prick test, skin injection tests require about 15 minutes of waiting before the status of the allergy can be determined.
Patch tests are usually performed to identify the cause of skin irritation. Rather than use needles, the patch test employs a patch that is placed on the skin and exposes the patient to between 20 and 30 substances. The patch is worn for about 2 days, during which the patient has to avoid bathing and activities that could cause the patch to get wet. As with the other skin tests, the patch test can cause discomfort.
Some patients avoid getting the allergy tests they need due to fear of the discomfort caused by the tests or the time commitment required to get these tests done. A new test, called AllergyPro, allows patients to be tested for 120 allergens – 70 environmental allergens, 40 food allergens, and 10 other non-inhalent allergens – with one finger prick. Patients are pricked with a lancet and then saturate 4 separate spots on a blood card, so only 4 drops of blood are needed for comprehensive results. The blood card is mailed to AllergyPro’s lab, where the blood is analyzed, and the patient’s allergies are determined.
AllergyPro tests for allergies to the 40 most common allergy-inducing foods. The 70 environmental allergies that AllergyPro tests for are: 7 grass allergies, 15 weed allergies, 29 tree pollen allergies, 13 molds and fungi allergies, and 8 insect and animal allergies. The test also screens for allergies to 7 stinging insects, penicillin, latex, and Total IgE. The test is compliant under FDA regulations, and most major insurance companies cover the test.
The AllergyPro test offers both an efficient and non-invasive way to comprehensively test patients to determine their allergies. One caveat of the test, though, is that the patient must be undergoing a reaction at the time of the test for it to work. The test is perhaps most useful in children, as children are the most likely to be bothered by an itchy skin test or a blood draw. By taking a child in to have the child tested with AllergyPro during a reaction, it may be possible to more conveniently determine the child’s allergies.