How do I prepare for my appointment?
Allergy skin tests are done on the lower forearms and occasionally on the upper
arms. It is best to wear a top/shirt with sleeves that are easy to roll up or a short
If you have asthma please bring your inhalers and aerochamber device if
applicable with you.
If you have eczema please bring your prescription creams.
If you suspect an allergic reaction to a food eg. at a restaurant or from a store
bought product please bring a copy of the full ingredient list.
If you have many current medications please bring a copy of your list.
Please write down your questions and bring them to the appointment to ensure
they are answered. How long will the appointment last?
New patients can expect to be in the office for 1 hour after seeing the doctor. We
strive to keep on time and if patients are more than 20 minutes late they may
need to reschedule and pay a cancellation fee. What medications do I need to stop before the appointment?
Please stop antihistamines for a minimum of 48 hours before your appointment.
This includes Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Atarax (hydroxyzine), Aerius,
Reactine, Allegra, Claritin. Over the counter cold and cough medications may
contain an anthistamine so be sure to check.
You should not stop any asthma medications, nasal steroid sprays and
medications prescribed for you by your physician(s).
If you have a skin condition eg. chronic hives and require daily antihistamines to
control them you may continue them and come to the appointment, however, we
would not be able to allergy test you that day. Chronic hives are rarely due to
environmental or food allergies therefore in severe hives it would be best to
remain on the antihistamines and other medications you need to control them
and we would consider allergy testing if warranted when the condition is
improved. What tests will I have done?
We will do allergy tests as indicated for the condition your doctor referred you for.
Our tests detect IgE mediated allergy for environmental, biting insect and food
We are not offering testing or consultations for venom (stinging insect or
hymenoptera allergy), drug allergies, or allergy tests other than prick skin tests
and when appropriate intradermal tests. We hope to expand our services in
future and will keep your doctor informed. Will it be itchy?
The control test histamine causes itchiness and if you have other allergies you
will have itchy spots. The itch usually resolves within one hour. Occasionally you
may notice small bumps on the arm which may last up to several days. You can
apply a cold compress to the area or wet cloth and take an antihistamine if it is
bothersome. What are Allergy tests? (copy from AAAAI website)
For children 7 and under and under other special situations we use the Lincoln
diagnostic multitest devices which prickle the arm lightly, are fast and well
tolerated by children. The gold standard tests which we will use for older
children, adults and in certain situations on younger children and infants consist
of applying drops of allergen on the arm from commercial extracts and lightly
scratching the drop so that the allergen is just under the skin. Other things you should know about allergy tests.
There is no minimum age to do accurate skin testing. Although some older
literature has quoted a false negative rate of up to 20% under age one in
extensive combined clinical practice at Montreal Children’s and Smyth Allergy
Clinic this is a rare event. We use a positive control test (histamine) which
causes a hive on purpose to ensure that the tests are working properly. If we
suspect an allergy and the rare situation arises where the scratch test is negative
we may need to arrange further tests with fresh extract or a blood test.
If I am allergic to peanuts for example, could the allergy skin test provoke a
This is rare when prick skin tests are performed by trained personnel. We are
fully equipped to deal with any adverse or allergic reaction to allergy testing. What if I don’t feel well after the tests?
If you do not feel well before, during or after the tests please notify staff right
away. If you have fainted or feel faint with any medical procedures please let us
know in advance. You should ensure you have eaten and had water or juice
before the appointment if you tend to become faint with tests. Will the allergy skin test make me more allergic to the substance in future
or cause me to develop an allergy?
No. The amount of allergen used is too low. What if I did not react much to the test in the office but get a bump later on
The allergy tests are generally read 15-20 minutes after they are done. If you
develop a small bump hours or days later this is not an IgE mediated reaction
and does not mean you have the allergy. If you are experiencing discomfort post
allergy testing not relieved by cool compresses and antihistamines you should
see a doctor. What are IgE allergy blood tests?
There are commercially available blood tests for allergies, however, they can
miss allergies ie. give a false negative and they are not covered by OHIP. They
cost approximately $18-20/allergen and there may be a lab processing fee. They
are not available at the Ottawa area hospitals. We recommend going to a
Gamma Dynacare lab for these as there is no processing fee for the IgE blood
For patients with food allergies please refer to the AAAAI information on this
We do not order IgG blood tests for foods or environmental allergens.
What if I am sick on the day of my appointment?
Please call and cancel if you are unwell and unable to attend your appointment.
You must cancel if you or your child has fever, vomiting, diarrhea, severe cough,
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