Allergy Patch Testing VS. Prick Testing: Which is Best?

Allergy Patch Testing VS. Prick Testing: Which is Best?

It’s a very common thing to have a stuffy nose and watery eyes and blame it on the season changes. Or to always feel uneasy after eating certain foods and chalk it up to just needing to ease up on the cheese. However, these are signs from our bodies that an allergy could be occurring. 

Allergy Patch Testing VS. Prick Testing: Which is Best?

An allergy is a chronic condition of the body in which a person’s immune system reacts to a substance that doesn’t bother most people, but their body sees as foreign. Allergies most commonly show up as food or skin sensitivities. 

When it comes to determining what we may be allergic to, there are two types of tests most used in the medical field: allergy patch testing and prick testing. The question becomes, which is best? 

Allergy Patch Testing

Allergy patch testing is a gold standard test used to detect delayed hypersensitivity reactions. These tests help to identify substances which cause contact dermatitis or inflammation/irritation of the skin.

Allergy Patch Testing VS. Prick Testing: Which is Best?

For patch testing specifically, there are about 35-125 allergens available to be tested. Once it is recommended by a provider at Texas Dermatology, our allergy technician will apply a selection of these allergens in small patches on your skin and tape them there for 48 hours. During this timeframe, you will need to avoid swimming, bathing, or participating in any activities that cause you to sweat.

Negative test results show that there were no changes to your skin, whereas positive test results indicate a sensitivity. From there, your Dermatologist will be able to tell you exactly what you’re allergic to or they may need to conduct further testing for more detailed results.  

Prick Testing

Prick testing includes an entirely different series of allergens from the patch tests. Prick tests are most often used to help determine inhaled allergens (i.e., pollen, dust, pet dander and mold) and to identify any food allergies. 

Allergy Patch Testing VS. Prick Testing: Which is Best?

This test is also applied by our allergy technician using tiny needles to prick your skin to introduce tiny droplets of the allergen. Up to 40 different allergens can be tested in one sitting. Once all the allergens are introduced, your allergist will monitor your skin reactions throughout the test.  

As with the patch testing, negative test results mean there were no changes to your skin and positive test results point to an allergic reaction. 

Which Test is Best?

Both allergy tests are simple, painless, and easy to accomplish. The major difference between the two are what type of sensitivities are being tested. Patch testing helps to determine skin irritations whereas prick testing works best to determine inhaled allergens and food sensitivities.

So, the answer to which is best would be, whichever one you need! Both tests serve an important purpose and produce great results. 

Are you looking to learn more about skin allergies and allergy treatment options? If so, our team at Texas Dermatology would love to help. Contact us today at (210) 829-5180 to schedule an appointment, or click here to submit a request online. 


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