talk to me about skin testing! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 02-15-2007, 05:12 AM - Thread Starter
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so we have an appt with an allergist on the 2nd. i suspect our son has multiple food allergies. when the nurse called to tell me when the appt was, she told me to plan on us being there all day long, and that we would be seeing the nutritionist, etc that day. when i received the brochures from the allergist's office in the mail, they discuss skin testing. so i'm thinking there's a good chance that they will want to perform skin testing on our son. he's 2 yo and while he's done really well with having his blood drawn in the past, i'm not really sure that i would feel comfortable him being stuck multiple times.

has anyone else had skin testing done on their children? how does skin testing's accuracy fare compared with blood testing for allergies? should i just go ahead and do the skin testing? should i ask for a blood test to confirm the skin testing results? TIA!

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#2 of 11 Old 02-15-2007, 05:40 AM
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DD and I have both had IGg blood tests for food sensitivities through our naturopath. However, I am seeing an allergist/asthma specialist next week and expect to have skin testing done. I was kind of hoping someone had already replied to you saying it wasn't too nasty.

If you haven't read "Is This Your Child?" by Doris Rapp, you might want to check it out. It's pretty interesting stuff and she goes into various types of skin testing, blood testing and also provocation/neutralization (P/N) testing, which tests one thing at a time and takes into account several types of reactions which are also relieved by a neutralizing remedy.

One thing she did say in the book was that if you have suspected food allergies that could cause an anaphylactic reaction, you should ask for blood testing for those items before doing skin tests.

I'm sure there are some other mamas around here who have "been there, done that" with their kids. Getting a blood test for DD last year was awful, so maybe if your son is pretty good about that, he'll tolerate the others OK? Are there distraction techniques (reading, games, nursing, etc.) you could use if he ends up needing the scratch tests? I would maybe call the clinic back and express your concerns and see if they have any good answers or suggestions for you.

Good luck with your son's allergies and his appointment.

I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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#3 of 11 Old 02-15-2007, 03:58 PM
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DS had the skin test when he was 10 months old. He didn't whine, fuss, or cry or even flinch when they pricked him. They didn't stick DS 10 different times (or however many they did). I think the tests came in a series of 6. So the nurse administered 6 at the same time. Its hard to describe, but all the little pricky things were all together held by plastic in a series of 6 (or 8?). So the did three of those things on his back. I think they only ever do four total, but for some reason they didn't test DS for the fourth one (perhaps it was environmental allergies).

I had a harder time keeping DS still then anything. They wanted to wait 15-20 minutes I think before looking at his back. I could tell within 10 minutes on the ones he tested positive for. It looked like a mosquito bite. I couldn't touch his back while we were waiting for the doctor and that was so hard!

I think the fail rate is about 20% with the skin prick test. There's always the possibility of false positives and false negatives.
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#4 of 11 Old 02-15-2007, 07:47 PM
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One thing that not all allergists tell you before your first visit is that some meds can affect the accuracy of skin tests. For us, we were told my sons needed to avoid antihistamines for five days (your dr's advice/time frame may vary), but NOT that the anti-reflux med my younger son was on could also mute his skin reactions. We were lucky in that his reactions were STILL noticeable enough, even with the med, to interpret.

So ask for a list of what meds to avoid, in case of testing, or call with any meds your child is on and check that they're okay.

My younger son never minded the skin tests when he was quite young (under 5 months for the first set; around 10 months for the second); he minded more the third time round (after his ana reaction) at 12 months or so when he was much more mobile and didn't want to sit still; he wanted to explore and scratch his back, not necessarily in that order.

My older son was 2 and a half when he got tested the first time and he didn't mind the pricks (though we warned him ahead of time and promised new crayons as a reward); he did mind the itching; no wonder as he turned out to be allergic to what seemed like half the pollens in the world.

It's overall pretty quick, though; a minute or two of getting picked with the plastic things, tops, and after half an hour of waiting and observing you should be completely done and then you can rub the child's back with Benadryl cream. If they don't think to offer it then you can request it or bring your own.
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#5 of 11 Old 02-15-2007, 08:51 PM
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By far the worst part for my DS (who's 4 and had the test this week) was when she had to draw the grid on his back! He's so ticklish, and the nurse kept telling him to hold still, and he just couldn't. The sticks were hard on him (he had 34), but that part was over fast. Then there was the itching to endure...

OK, so I'm not gonna say it was pleasant. DS has had worse, though, so that probably biases me to say it wasn't so bad. The EEG was much worse, and the barium enema was a nightmare (my poor kid has been through the wringer).

I knew that this was information that I needed to keep DS safe, so we just got through it the best we could. I hope it goes OK for your DS!


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#6 of 11 Old 02-16-2007, 11:41 PM
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We did intradermal testing and found Rescue Remedy to be a godsend.
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#7 of 11 Old 02-17-2007, 12:05 AM
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i had to have this done for my dd when she was 3 1/2 she never even cried at all i sat her on my lap facing me with her shirt off he said hold her arms so she didnt move but i knew i didnt need to i just told her to hold still and she did i even asked her after if it hurt she said no
if they are doing the one on the dc's back it is easy they wipe the back w/ alchol then there is a thing they put on the dc'a back with different liquids on the tip it touches the dc's back once it has multiple flat points on it to make a drop of each go on the skin then he uses a mini needle to prick the skin then he marks each spot with a pen mark and waits to see if it reacts
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#8 of 11 Old 02-17-2007, 12:24 AM
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Our allergists have always used the plastic grids to do several sticks at once.

Just as an FYI, if your child has active eczema on their arms or back, they may not do skin testing. Eczema will skew the results.

I'm more familiar with RAST testing (IgE) than anything else, as far as testing for food allergies goes.
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#9 of 11 Old 02-17-2007, 10:51 AM
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Skin testing isn't too bad. THe worst part is keeping them from trying to scratch their back, etc.

Liam had a positive test result to egg, then nothing else was positive, but after the time limit was up, all of his other known allergens plus shellfish (never had it lol) popped up. Allergist didn't know what to make of it, only called egg positive, but told me to treat him like he was allergic to the rest (all of the top 8 except fish, he is no longer allergic to milk, the testing was a year ago.)

He recently had RAST done and everything was negative. He reacts w/ hives to soy and skin contact to peanuts, so those at least are definite IgE allergies. He had accidental egg exposure last week. I don't think he actually swallowed any, I finger swept his mouth (bite of pancake) but he got horrible eczema, no hives. Weird.

Anyway, my point is neither test is completely accurate. Elimination diets are the only way to figure out food allergies for sure.
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#10 of 11 Old 02-18-2007, 12:56 AM
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Since the time we entered the world of allergies with ds, I have learned there is so much to learn and everyone seems to have a different theory. So keep in mind that this test will give you a good idea, but that there may be others. I want to emphasize what someone else said that false negatives and the false positives happen. And in addition to these tests, you just have to see how your child responds to certain foods.

BTW--a friend's child had the skin testing done several times and her dd didn't seem to mind a lot... they had more trouble with the blood draw (if people are getting a blood draw for little's as good idea to ask for someone who is experienced with little kids).

best of luck to you
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#11 of 11 Old 02-24-2007, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks everyone for the replies! after looking it up, i'm more comfortable with it (should it be performed) i don't think that there'll be a problem. we'll figure out a way to distract him. he doesn't nurse well when we're outside of the home but i'll try to remember to bring crayons and a coloring book, etc. i think we'll pick up some rescue remedy too, because i'm sure it'll be a long stressful day regardless! he isn't on any meds either so no worries there.

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