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In the Media

Skin Allergy Testing

What is allergy?
An allergy is an abnormal sensitivity to an allergen that is inhaled, eaten or touched that most of other people can tolerate with no trouble. Allergies are over-reactions to substances one's immune system considers harmful.
What are common allergens?
  • Pollens
  • Drugs
  • Insects
Is allergy inherited?
If both parents have respiratory allergies then risk that their offspring’s develop an allergy goes up by 80%. The increased tendency of some families to develop allergy sensitization is termed asatopy: atopic dermatitis (eczema), hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) and allergic asthma. Atopic individuals are generally prone to manufacture allergy antibodies (IgE) with increased tendency to react against allergens present in the environment (pollen, cat, moulds, house dust, mite)
Do children outgrow allergies?
Sometimes, food allergies are more likely to be outgrown than inhalant allergies. Food allergy is much more common in children than in adults.
What are common allergic manifestations?
  • Skin prick test
  • RAST
  • IgE
  • AEC (absolute eosinophil count)
  • Nitric Oxide estimation in exhaled air as a marker of allergic inflammation
  • provocation tests (for food and drug allergy)
  • skin patch testing (for contact allergy)
  • skin scratch tests (mainly for drug allergy)
Skin prick testing
It is the oldest allergy test firstly performed by Dr Charles Blackley in Manchester, England. Standardised glycerinated extracts of various allergens are used which are highly accurate in its results to confirm which allergen is responsible. A diluted extract of each allergen is pricked into the skin of forearm or on the back. With a positive reaction, small raised, reddened area with surrounding flush (called wheal & flare) will appear at test site. The results are measured after 15-20 minutes. Skin Prick testing is done at Pulastya skin clinic under expert guidance of Dr Vivek Mehta.
How is allergy treated?
  • The diagnosis should ideally be confirmed to determine the exact source of the allergy before commencing the treatment.
  • Once the allergens positivity is established, its clinical significance is correlated.
  • The best way to treat allergies is to avoid exposure to allergens in the first place, but this is not practical solution generally.
  • Many treatments are available to relieve symptoms, ranging from over the counter anti-histamines to potent anti-inflammatory drugs like steroids.
  • Immunotherapy is a method of treating allergies which is effective by producing blocking antibodies to counteract the allergy manifesting antibodies.
What is Immunotherapy?
It is the process of administering increasing amount of allergens by subcutaneous injections for which patient is found to be allergic. It eventually builds tolerance to these allergen substances and prevents them causing symptoms.
How does immunotherapy work?
The exact mechanism by which immunotherapy switches off allergies is uncertain. It was hypothesized that the specific “IgE antibodies” were produced during successful immunotherapy.
Is immunotherapy a cure?
  • Immunotherapy may not be cure but can significantly lessen symptoms to different degrees to substances contained in immunotherapy.
  • Studies showing the effectiveness of immunotherapy show that roughly about 8 in 10 patients benefit from immunotherapy.
  • Generally the period to have immunotherapy injections vary from 3 months to 1 year but in some cases might need to be given up to 3 years for long term benefit.
  • Improvement in symptoms is usually observed in 6 months to 1 year of immunotherapy. Total period of immunotherapy may vary from 3 months to a year.
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