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Which is the best allergy test for me?

It depends on your symptoms and how broad you need the testing to be.
Generally speaking, there are two main types of test which are reliable in aiding the diagnosis of an allergy: ​
  • Specific IgE blood tests 
  • Skin prick tests
Blood tests
Specific IgE (immunoglobulin E) blood tests measure your body’s sensitivity to particular allergens.  The tests can be conducted on a single allergen basis – for example a specific IgE test for tomato; or an allergen panel test which looks at a variety of allergens in one go.   
The most comprehensive specific IgE test available is the ALEX allergen panel test.  It looks at 295 different allergens including:
  • Different types of pollens
  • A variety of moulds
  • Animal allergies (e.g cats, dogs, horse and rabbit)
  • Many different types of food including multiple nuts, fruits, wheat, shellfish and dairy.
  • Insect allergens, including venom
  • Latex
  • Dust mites
For a full list of all the allergens tested by the ALEX2 allergen panel test, please see here.
The ALEX test is available as a home testing kit, using a finger prick blood sample you take yourself, or the test can be prepared (and blood taken) in the clinic.
The results from the ALEX test arrive in the form of a report, typically 1-2 days after the sample is taken. An example report can be seen here
A positive result from a specific IgE test does not necessarily indicate that an allergy exists.  The test is a diagnostic tool which requires interpretation by a doctor. 
Skin prick testing
A skin prick test is performed by a doctor during the consultation.  The results are immediate and can confirm a diagnosis of an allergy.
The skin prick test involves taking small amounts of particular allergens, for example grass pollen, which is usually in a liquid form and placing a small drop on the patient’s forearm.  A lancet is then used to make a slight scratch on the arm where the droplet is.  After 10 minutes, a wheal (raised itchy bump) may form which indicates an allergic response.  The size of the wheal can correlate with the severity of the allergy. 
Skin prick testing can look at 10-15 different allergens at a time and is particularly useful for testing aeroallergens (for example pollens, house dust mites and animal dander).
If a specific IgE test indicates that a sensitisation exists to an allergen, a skin prick test may be needed to confirm the diagnosis of an allergy. 
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