Many Balmonds customers come to us because they suffer from various types of sensitivities or allergies, and have to be super cautious about the products they put on their skin; they know that our gentle, natural skincare products are unlikely to cause a flare-up while helping to maintain and protect healthy, hydrated and supple skin.
But what can be a trigger? Actually identifying specific allergy triggers can be a challenging task, given the sheer numbers and combinations of foods or other substances that might be the culprit. Allergy testing, if done correctly, can be a useful tool to help identify things that should be avoided.
What types of tests are available?
There are several types of allergy testing available, all of which need to be carried out by a healthcare professional or trained allergy specialist. Testing for allergies is safe but should be taken very seriously and never carried out at home without medical help or advice available.
Skin prick test
This test is done by introducing a tiny amount of a specific allergen into the body via a skin prick, usually in the forearm, or sometimes elsewhere on the body if skin is not clear from eczema on the forearm. If allergies are present, a small flare of red skin will appear, or perhaps even a bump where the skin was pricked. Results will show in approximately 15 to 20 minutes so this is a quick easy test with almost immediate results. Sadly, test results are not always 100% accurate so should be done in conjunction with an allergy and medical history assessment, carried out by a specialist who can help build a picture of your allergies.
A blood test may be suggested if a skin prick test is unsuitable. Again this should be done by a trained professional who will be looking at allergy history to build an accurate picture of which allergens should be tested. Blood is taken in the usual way from a vein and sent off to a lab for analysis. Results are usually available within 7 to 14 days. Again this does not always produce 100% accurate results – the more history you can build with your allergy specialist about your specific case, the more accurately they will be able to advise you and analyse allergy test results.
This will test for allergies to common triggers such as fragrance, nickel (in metal), cosmetic ingredients, latex etc. Your allergy specialist will offer some standard triggers such as these to be tested, but you can also take with you something you think may have triggered an allergic reaction that you would like to be tested for. The test is done by small amounts of each chemical being applied to a disc (about 1cm in diameter) and then taped to your back. You can be tested for up to 100 different substances so this can be a really good way to eliminate or identify lots of triggers. The patches are left for 48 hours and the results are assessed by looking to see if any skin reaction has occurred with each chemical.
Unfortunately, all types of allergy testing are open to inaccurate results, so if you are considering going down this route, please make sure you talk to a specialist to ensure the best chance of a helpful outcome.
Allergy UK are a wonderful charity who offer free advice for all types of allergies, their helpline number is 01322 619 898 and they will be able to help you to formulate an action plan for your allergy testing.
Watch this video from Allergy UK for more information
on allergy testing and diagnosis.