What to Expect at an Allergy Scratch Test

Jane Lawson

I'm a 20-something on a mission to defining myself, and ending stigma surrounding allergies, autism and out-of-the-box thinkers. In my free time, I write the unconventional web series I've been creating, tend to my garden, and binge-watch stuff on Netflix. I blog at janepedia.com.
Say goodbye to antihistamines before and during allergy scratch tests!
Say goodbye to antihistamines before and during allergy scratch tests!

Needles—lots of needles. An allergy scratch test is a lot like an optometrist’s appointment. You sit in a chair of a patient room, and you’re going to be sitting in that chair for the entire process.

Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if you went in your pajamas—I went in mine on the second day, just because I couldn’t handle the sensory input from the test and from my other clothes. A doctor’s office quickly becomes freezing. Your body’s busy reacting to potential allergies and where needles met your skin.

Depending on the location of the test, you may not have much freedom with your clothes, though. My scratch testing was done on the upper parts of my arms, between my shoulder and elbow. Some allergists prefer to perform tests on their patients’ backs—I think it depends on convenience and allergens; I’m not totally sure. My back is a lot more tender and sensitive, though, so my arms being tested instead meant not only was I not totally uncomfortable, but I wasn’t forced to face my hypersensitive traits, either (#win).

Scratch test process

My allergist was madly skilled, so she was done with placing each allergen on my skin within a few seconds. We only tested one at a time, meaning one allergen was applied, then we waited 10-20 minutes to determine whether my body would react to it.

Because I function much better under the influence of antihistamines, I was exhausted from not having been on antihistamines both in the days leading up to the testing and during the testing. Your allergist needs you awake so you can tell her if you’re experiencing any inward symptoms (e.g. sore throat). This is why a good night’s sleep is important, as I said last week!

If you need something to keep you awake, I recommend listening to music or watching @ralph_the_rex’s Instagram videos.

Gotta catch em all! #Ralphtherex #pokemongo #summerofralph

A post shared by R A L P H the R E X™ (@ralph_the_rex) on

After your scratch testing, you’ll be given a copy of your allergies diagnoses, typically based on a 1-4 scale, which your allergist will explain. You’ll also be given resource sheets/packets, and possibly be asked to scheduled an immunotherapy appointment.

My allergy scratch test

My test was done in the morning. I arrived circa 7am, and we weren’t out until sometime around noon. By the second day, I was extremely exhausted and ready for bed, but I needed to eat before I took an antihistamine tablet and fell comatose.

To avoid this same experience, consider making yourself lunch (or dinner) the night before, so all you need to do is take it out of the fridge and heat it up (or eat it cold). If you’re one to eat breakfast or lunch/dinner, you could also spend five minutes making a healthy, 5-item breakfast.

Just…maybe wait until after you’ve eaten before you take the meds. Waking up with yesterday’s food on your forehead and in your hair’s not fun. (Not that I’d know, of course.)

Have you ever had an allergy scratch test? How did you stay awake?

Post Author: Jane Lawson

I'm a 20-something on a mission to defining myself, and ending stigma surrounding allergies, autism and out-of-the-box thinkers. In my free time, I write the unconventional web series I've been creating, tend to my garden, and binge-watch stuff on Netflix. I blog at janepedia.com.

1 thought on “What to Expect at an Allergy Scratch Test

    Liz Lawson | Choose To Cook

    (August 30, 2016 - 4:26 pm)

    […] two weeks later, I was diagnosed with more allergies than I could keep up with. I was devastated. I started immunotherapy, but […]

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