Our approach to skin test result interpretation is integrative, personalized, and thorough in order to give you an accurate picture of your current health status, your diagnosis, and the most appropriate treatment options for you. Allergen skin testing has many strengths but also has many limitations, and these all need to be taken into account along with your medical history, allergic conditions, and environmental factors in order to best determine what an allergen skin test result may mean for you.
Allergy cells throughout different areas of the body can have different characteristics and therefore may react differently when stimulated by a particular allergen. This means that it is important to keep in mind that the result of a skin test in one localized area provides important information but may not tell the whole story about how allergy cells in your nose, eyes, airways, gastrointestinal tract, other areas of the skin, or brain may respond when stimulated by that allergen.
Commercially prepared antigens have been modified from their raw form due to the purification process (which allows them to be safely used for testing and treatment), and antigens from different companies or even different batches from the same company are not all equitable. So a commercial antigen for “dog allergen” will likely contain many of the important dog allergens but may be missing some major or minor ones that are also important for some people, and one company’s dog allergen extract may be quite different from another company’s, yielding different skin test results.
Allergy cells in the skin persist for a long time. This means that skin tests results often do not change as early or as dramatically as some other areas of the immune system when a person is on an immunotherapy treatment, so notable symptom relief is often present before significant changes in skin tests. Because of this property, skin tests don’t need to be repeated very frequently, but following skin test results over appropriate time intervals can be very helpful in assessing possible immune system changes or status on treatment.