ALLERGIES: SKIN TESTS FOR CHILDREN
Skin testing is a very reliable method of determining the kind, as well as the degree, of sensitivity to an inhaled allergen. Intradermal or scratch tests should be performed in three sessions, one session each week, as it is not advisable to perform more than ten of them each time. A possible schedule of testing might look like the one indicated here.
First session Second session Third session
Trees Silk Alternaria
Grasses Feathers Aspergillus
Plantain Dog Hair Penicillium
Ragweed Goat Hair Hormodendron
Tobacco Horse Serum Cottonseed
Pyrethrum Cat Hair Flaxseed
Orris Root Rabbit Hair
The above tests are to be repeated in different dilutions because the intensity of the reaction to each dilution determines the treatment. A very sensitive child classified as AA can tolerate a much smaller quantity of desensitizing material than someone who has been classified as À, Â, Ñ, or D. However, even though testing in different dilutions is a good guide to the strength of the solution to be used in desensitization, it does not indicate the actual amount of discomfort that the allergic child may be suffering.
During skin testing, some highly sensitive children may get hives or shock. If this happens, the doctor should place a tourniquet on the arm above the site of the test (in order to delay the absorption of the testing material) and inject adrenalin in the testing area. This injection may have to be repeated in half an hour.
Skin testing for foods has limited value in the diagnosis of a food allergy. Consequently, many allergists skip these tests altogether. They rely instead on an accurate history and elimination diets. Those who do tests for foods find that intradermal tests are more accurate than scratch tests, but the possibility of severe anaphylactic reactions while testing for shellfish, nuts, and strawberries are possible.
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