Ways a Skin Scratch Test Saves Lives

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.

Well, Mary can thank her stars she wasn’t allergic to wool. Otherwise, she’d be a sneezing, wheezing mess, covered in red rashes. Yes, it’s true – many people are allergic to wool, and the symptoms are not a pretty sight. Well, it’s not the wool per se that’s the cause of the problem; it’s the lanolin oil present in fleece. You might be allergic to this material and not be aware of it. So how do you know whether you’re allergic or not? Are there any tests? Luckily, yes. Ask for a skin scratch test. Apart from wool, the results of this test tell you which materials and substances you should avoid. This means even if you are in Florida and rarely wear that woolen jacket, there are plenty of reasons why you must visit a healthcare medicine center to get yourself checked. Remember, staying informed is the first step to staying well.

Skin Scratch Test: Choice or Necessity?

Healthcare professionals have never reached a unanimous about the necessity of a skin scratch test. According to some, allergy tests are helpful but unnecessary. However, the sad truth is, times have changed. As the quality of the environment continues to degrade, our natural immunity level against ailments and diseases has shrunk considerably. It’s no longer possible for an allergist to accurately guess which allergies you can contact simply by asking some questions and interpreting the responses. A study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology supports this view. The results show how patient history and reports fall short of being true predictors of allergy. The findings signify that a lot of people end up wasting their energy, time, and money avoiding stuff they are not allergic to.

We’ve become susceptible to various things that can introduce mild to severe allergic reactions, ranging from a common cold to life-threatening seizures. Allergic reactions might seem like a minor nuisance, but some of them are dangerous. A surefire way to prevent such health issues is skin scratch testing.

Conducting Skin Scratch Test

You must visit a healthcare center to get this test done. It’s easy enough for a nurse to administer without any trouble, and the results are presented to the doctor for analysis. Skin scratch tests usually don’t take very long – around 20 to 40 minutes.

What the Test Involves

Also known as a puncture test or a skin prick test, skin scratch tests detect immediate allergic reactions to more than 40 individual substances in one go.

Testing Surface

This test is most effective when it comes to detecting pollen allergies, pet dander, foods, dust mites, and mold. For adults, the test is commonly done on the forearm. In the case of children, however, the most common spot is the upper back.

Any Pain?

Skin scratch tests don’t cause you any pain. Such testing involves the use of lancets, a kind of needle that hardly penetrates the surface of your skin. There is no bleeding. All you’ll experience is mild discomfort, and this too lasts for a moment.


The first step in the test is to clean the test site using alcohol. The nurse then draws small marks on the skin, and allies a drop of allergen extract next to every mark. For each type of allergen, the nurse has to use a fresh lancet.

Two extra substances are scratched into the surface of your skin to check if the reaction is normal.

  • Glycerin/Saline: Most people don’t react to these substances. If any reaction is perceived, your skin might be sensitive. Careful interpretation of the test results is important to avoid a wrong allergy diagnosis.
  • Histamine: This is a commonly used reactive substance. No reaction to histamine means that an allergy test would prove unsuccessful even if you do have an allergy.

If you’re allergic to a specific substance used in the test, a red, itchy bump resembling a mosquito bite will develop on your skin. The nurse will measure the bump’s size. There are many benefits of opting for a skin scratch testing. And like we said earlier, wool isn’t the only thing that can make you allergic. You’ll be wiser when it comes to the kinds of food you can eat and the substances you can use. This will enable you to lead a healthy and allergy-free life.