Skin Prick Testing (SPT) for Allergy

Published on August 27, 2022

Allergies following exposure to certain substances in the environment are common, and avoiding the allergen could help to reduce the chances of an allergic reaction. Since we are exposed to thousands of substances every day, pinpointing a single substance or a group of substances that causes allergies could be difficult.

Skin Prick Test

The skin prick test is one of the allergy tests that can help to confirm the diagnosis of an allergy and identify its cause. It is usually used to diagnose allergies to substances in the air. It is particularly useful when the diagnosis of allergy is in doubt or the patient does not respond to the usual anti-allergy treatment.

Skin Prick Test – Procedure

During the procedure, small amounts of standardized allergens, which are substances that often cause allergies, are introduced in the skin, most often, of the forearm. If a person is allergic to a particular allergen, a small swelling appears in approximately 15 to 20 minutes around the area where it was introduced.

Skin Prick Test – Side Effects

The skin prick test is sensitive, specific and usually safe. Side effects may include discomfort, itchiness and redness at the site where the allergen was introduced. Some people could experience worsening of asthma symptoms. Very rare cases of severe allergic reactions have been reported. Therefore, the test should be carried out at a location where emergency facilities are available.

Skin Prick Test – Contraindications

The skin prick test should be avoided in people with severe or uncontrolled asthma due to a risk of worsening of symptoms. It should also be avoided in people with severe or unstable heart disease and pregnant women. Medicines such as anti-allergy medications that may interfere with the results should be avoided before the test.


Testera-Montes A, Jurado R, Salas M, Eguiluz-Gracia I, Mayorga C. Diagnostic Tools in Allergic Rhinitis. Front Allergy. 2021;2:721851. doi: 10.3389/falgy.2021.721851.

Wise SK et al. International Consensus Statement on Allergy and Rhinology: Allergic Rhinitis. International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, Vol. 8, No. 2, February 2018, Pages 108-352. DOI: 10.1002/alr.22073.

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