Children may suffer from many different types of allergies including food allergies, environmental allergies, skin allergies, allergic reactions to bee stings, latex allergies, and many more. Some common environmental allergies in children include pollen, plant, pet dander, dust mite, and mold allergies. Food allergies in children often include reactions to peanuts, dairy products, and eggs. Skin allergies may occur after contact with soap, lotion, detergent, or other chemical based products.
Allergy symptoms can include sneezing, chronic cough, watery eyes, itchy eyes, runny nose, frequent skin rashes, breathing difficulties, upset stomach, and more. The exact symptoms depend on the type of allergy and the severity of the allergy.
If a child has displayed allergic symptoms on a regular basis, the pediatrician may recommend allergy testing. This type of testing is especially important for children who are so affected by allergic symptoms that it's interfering with school, family time, or social time. Allergy testing is the only way to definitively determine what's behind a child's allergic symptoms.
Allergy testing can be done in several different ways. Allergy skin tests, sometimes called prick tests, are the most common kind of allergy testing. In this test, tiny amounts of a suspected allergen are introduced to the child's body through small pricks in the skin. If the skin turns red and swells around the skin prick, the allergen has been found. Generally, it takes 20 minutes or less to see if a patient is allergic to specific substances using this method. As with allergy skin tests, allergy patch tests involve exposure to the suspected allergen, but in this case the allergen is on a patch applied to the skin. Allergy patch tests are usually reserved for testing potential skin allergies. Allergy blood tests are done on samples of the patient's blood, so they require a small blood draw. These tests aren't as precise as allergy skin tests in most cases. The pediatrician will help parents decide which test is most effective for their child.