The two most commonly used allergy test kits are a skin prick test or a blood test. They are typically offered at a doctor's office or outpatient clinic, but are also available online at the drugstore over the counter, or by prescription. These allergy test kits help determine the specific allergen responsible for allergy symptoms.
The skin prick test is usually the test done first when an allergy is suspected, as it is safe, painless and quick. Results are available within about 20 minutes. Tiny amounts of common allergens are inserted just under the skin and if there is a reaction to it in the form of an itchy, red wheal, then this is the cause or one of the causes of the allergy. These tests are not usually self-administered, but there are one or two allergy test kits of this kind available to the general public.
Blood tests are also known as specific immunoglobulin (IgG) tests. IgG are antibodies produced by the body’s immune system in response to an allergen. Allergy test kits are sent out to the public who then provide a blood sample and send the kits back to the testing laboratory which analyzes the results. This eliminates the need for making, waiting and traveling to an appointment.
Allergy test kits are also available that do not require sending blood samples to a laboratory. In this case, the kit contains a small sterile lancet with which to prick the finger and draw blood into blood collection tube. There is a small well within the kit with an absorbent pad which is where the blood is placed. About 15 minutes after the application of a developer solution, result lines appear adjacent to certain symbols. These tests can be used by a medical practitioner, a pharmacist or by a person in their home.
Once an allergy sufferer is able to determine which allergens are responsible for their symptoms, they are better able to manage their environment and make it as allergen free as possible. Many medical practitioners do not recommend self testing particularly in the form of commercial allergy test kits which analyze hair or stool samples. They maintain that this technology is not backed up by sufficient scientific research. As an allergy may be life-threatening in some cases, it is more advisable to seek an expert opinion and testing strategy.