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Overview of skin testing for allergic disease

Krzysztof Kowal, MD
Lawrence DuBuske, MD
Section Editors
Bruce S Bochner, MD
Robert A Wood, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna M Feldweg, MD


Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated allergies account for the majority of clinically significant environmental, food, and medication allergies. Skin testing is an important element in the diagnosis of IgE-mediated allergy.

This topic review will discuss general principles of skin testing used in the diagnosis of IgE-mediated allergy, including indications, contraindications, factors influencing results, techniques, and accuracy. The two major methods of skin testing used, the prick/puncture technique and the intradermal technique, are described. The use of skin testing to diagnose specific disorders is presented in the appropriate topic reviews. (See "Diagnostic evaluation of food allergy" and "Allergic rhinitis: Clinical manifestations, epidemiology, and diagnosis", section on 'Skin testing'.)

Other forms of skin testing, such as patch testing for contact dermatitis or atopy patch testing for eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders, are reviewed separately. (See "Patch testing" and "Allergy testing in eosinophilic esophagitis".)


There are three components to the diagnosis of an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated allergic disorder. These are:

Identification of the possible culprit allergen(s), usually through a careful clinical history.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 14, 2016.
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