Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I do if I can’t stop taking my antihistamines 1 week prior to my skin testing appointment?

A: If this is not possible due to the severity of your symptoms, don’t discontinue your antihistamines. Still come in at your appointed time. Your visit might be much shorter than if we were able to do testing but we can still give you a treatment plan and bring you back at another time to complete the skin testing.

Q: What is the difference between food allergies and food intolerance? Can you skin test for food sensitivities?

A: True food allergies are IgE mediated (Immunoglobulin E).  The bodies’ Immunoglobulin E tags the protein in the allergenic food substance and fools the immune system into believing that the protein is harmful to the body. This in turn causes a reaction which can sometimes cause serious consequences. Classic symptoms include eczema, hives, lip or tongue swelling within seconds to 3 hrs after ingestion.  True food allergies will skin test positive whereas food sensitivities will not. These food insensitivities/intolerances usually cause gastrointestinal symptoms.

Q: My child is egg allergic. Can my child get the MMR or Flu vaccine?

A: The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine causes anaphylaxis in gelatin allergic patients. Gelatin is a component in the vaccine and has been found to be the main culprit with anaphylaxis associated with this vaccine. We can skin test for this vaccine if the parent or your child’s pediatrician are uncomfortable giving the MMR.

The standard influenza (flu) vaccine is grown on cultures using chicken eggs. Most egg allergic patient’s skin test negative and can receive this vaccine in our office. Once given we will monitor you or your child for any signs of a reaction. A newer flu vaccine called the FluBlok is made with a genetically engineered insect virus rather than grown in chicken eggs; however this vaccine is only approved for ages 18-49. 2014 is the first year for this vaccine in the U.S. so its safety and effectiveness have yet to be established.

Q: How often should I update food skin testing?

A: Every one to two years for frequently outgrown foods (eggs/milk/soy/wheat). Every 2-3 years for less frequently outgrown foods (peanuts/tree nuts/seafood). We also recommend a periodic blood test (ImmunocapRast) to help follow food allergic patients.

Q: Why is it important to identify allergies early? 

A: Both food and environmental allergens should be avoided. Knowing what allergens patients are sensitive to will help minimize symptoms and reactions. This may help patients to outgrow their allergies and prevent medical therapy, or prevent a patient from developing asthma.

Q: What should I do about stinging insects?

A: Everyone will react in some way to the venom of stinging insects, but up to 13.5 million people in the U.S. may be at risk of anaphylaxis. Protect yourself and your family by becoming familiar with the types of reactions and what action to take in the event someone is stung. Read our Patient Education on Stinging Insects for more information about insect venom allergies.

Q: How do I know if I’m allergic to the antibiotic Penicillin?

A: Only 1 out of 10 patients that think they are allergic to Penicillin are confirmed as allergic through skin testing. Find out more about Penicillin allergy testing from this PDF document about Penicillin testing.