Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Children's Hospital
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Home / A–Z Services / Allergy and Immunology Clinics / Your Allergy Clinic Visit
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Your Allergy Clinic Visit


Please contact our office with any questions or concerns you may have prior to your visit.

If your child has been evaluated or tested by an allergist in the previous five years, please bring those records with you. We will review them at the time of your visit.

If skin testing is desired, it may be appropriate to stop antihistamines for 10 days in advance of the visit. Some antihistamines last longer in the body than others. If your appointment is within 10 days, you may discuss this with the nurse at the time you schedule your appointment. If you need to know which medications are antihistamines and should be stopped, please ask the nurse prior to your visit or read the welcome letter linked below.

New patients

Read the welcome letter for new patients, linked below. Review the antihistamine medications that should be stopped prior to your visit.

First steps

At the beginning of your visit, a nurse will measure your child's height and weight and take vital signs. We will ask you to complete a form that provides the doctor with allergy-related information. You may see one of our allergy fellows (a physician who has completed his or her specialist residency) who will ask you questions and examine your child. An allergist will then discuss the evaluation and examination findings with you, and explain possible treatments.

Allergy skin testing information

Skin testing is the most definitive way to confirm allergy to foods or inhaled environmental particles (also known as inhalant allergens) such as pollens, dust, and animal dander. Many patients who seek an allergist’s advice or are sent by their doctor have already tried medications designed to treat the allergy and are dissatisfied with the level of symptom control.

Skin testing removes the uncertainty of treating a condition that may not be due to an allergy. It may help you understand how to avoid the offending substance. Skin testing may also reveal the option of treating the allergy with desensitization injections, also known as allergy shots.

Skin testing may be appropriate for evaluating allergies in children. Many parents fear that testing will be unduly traumatic. You should discuss any fears or concerns about skin testing with your allergist.

A visit to our clinic does not always lead to skin testing. The risks of testing are extremely low. We will discuss any such risks with you, and answer all your questions during your visit and prior to testing.

The skin-testing process

Skin testing generally takes place either on the skin of the back or, for an older child or young adult, on the skin of the inner forearm.

The health care professional performing the skin test first cleans and sterilizes the testing area with alcohol and allows it to dry.

The tester then begins delivering tiny amounts of allergens into the patient's skin with a a skin-testing prick device. This device resembles a short, squat plastic toothpick with a tiny metal point. The device is sterile, is used only once, and then discarded. Each tip has been dipped in a specific allergen extract.

Each device is pressed briefly into the skin and then removed. The short pointed tip of the device can only penetrate the top layer of skin, and rarely causes any bleeding. It is not completely painless, but does not feel like the injection of a medication, or even like a needle used to draw blood.

The most common device used in our clinic contains five tests per unit, all attached to one another. This makes the application of five tests faster, less painful, and more uniform than individual applications. The complete panel of tests for respiratory allergies is usually accomplished with only three of these composite tests.

The skin testing area is then left undisturbed for 15 minutes, and then gently blotted dry. At this time your doctor will examine the testing area. The points that show allergic reactions will usually be itchy and red, and may show slightly raised areas similar to a mosquito bite. These local reactions fade quickly and usually disappear within one hour.

Last Edited: December 29, 2016
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