Allergy testing is a crucial step in identifying and managing allergies. Allergies can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening reactions, making accurate and timely testing essential.
How long does an allergy test take?
Many patients new to allergy testing and treatment aren’t familiar with the process. Because there are multiple allergy tests to choose from, times will vary based on the type and method of testing done. Today, we’re answering your question, “How long does allergy testing take?” so you know what to expect from scheduling your test to starting treatment.
Types of Allergy Tests
There are more variations of allergy tests than just an allergy blood test vs skin test. Your doctor or allergist will help you decide between them and choose which is right for you. It’s important to understand that any test alone does not diagnose an allergy. Testing must be considered in the context of a patient’s history of symptoms for a proper diagnosis.
Some of the most common types of allergy tests are:
- Skin-prick tests (SPT): A small amount of allergen extract is placed on the skin's surface which is then pricked or scratched to allow the allergens to enter. The test takes roughly 15 minutes to administer in most cases. A raised bump or redness at the test site indicates that you’re sensitized to that allergen.
- Patch test: This type of allergy test is most often used to diagnose allergies to products that come into direct contact with your skin and cause a rash (contact dermatitis). Allergen-containing patches are applied to your skin for 48 hours and reactions like redness or irritation are assessed to indicate a sensitivity to those allergens.
- Intradermal tests (IDT): A small amount of allergen extract is injected right beneath the surface of your skin to assess your body's immune response. This type of allergy test is typically used when skin prick tests yield inconclusive results and takes about 15 minutes. It is also used to detect allergens with low sensitivity thresholds (the amount of an allergen that can be tolerated without producing a reaction).
- Blood allergy test (specific IgE test): Blood tests measure the levels of allergen-specific antibodies (IgE) in the bloodstream. A higher level of IgE antibodies to a particular allergen suggests sensitivity to that substance. Results may take up to one week.
- Oral food challenge test: This is a highly accurate food allergy test that should only be administered by your allergist. Portions of certain foods are ingested in measured quantities to gauge your body’s reaction and determine the severity of your food allergies.
How Long Do Allergy Tests Take?
You’ve scheduled or ordered your allergy test, now how long does an allergy test take? Each of the most common types of allergy tests has its own testing method and results timeline.
Skin Prick Testing
Skin prick testing is a quick testing method with fast results. It’s administered by an allergist or doctor during an office visit and cannot be administered on your own at home.
Testing time: Skin prick testing typically takes 15 to 30 minutes. Multiple allergens can be tested in a single session, so the total time may vary depending on the number of allergens being tested.
Results time: The results of a skin prick test are usually available within 15 to 30 minutes after the test is conducted.
Like skin prick tests, patch testing is administered during an office visit and not from home.
Testing time: Patch testing requires two or more visits to a healthcare provider. The initial application of patches takes around 30 minutes. The patches are usually left on for 48 hours and a follow-up visit is needed to check for reactions.
Results time: Results from patch testing are typically available after the second visit, which may range from 2 to 7 days after the initial patch application.
Intradermal Tests (IDT)
Intradermal tests aren’t administered as often but yield fast results.
Testing time: The actual injection process for an IDT is relatively quick, usually taking a few minutes to administer the allergens.
Results time: Results of intradermal allergy tests typically become visible within 15 to 20 minutes after the injections are administered, allowing for a relatively swift assessment of allergic reactions.
Blood Allergy Tests (Specific IgE Test)
Accurate blood allergy tests take longer to analyze for results but are able to be done in person at a lab like Quest or Labcorp as well as by doing allergy testing at home using a test kit. Make sure any home allergy test you take is partnered with a CLIA-certified lab.
Testing time: Drawing blood for an allergy test usually takes a few minutes, but the overall testing process may take longer if you need to wait at a lab or clinic.
Results time: The results of blood tests for allergies can take several days to a couple of weeks, as the blood sample needs to be sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Oral Food Challenges
Oral food challenges take a long time to administer, by comparison, but are specific tests meant for severe food allergies as opposed to the wider testing capabilities of blood allergy tests.
Testing time: The duration of an oral food challenge can vary widely, depending on the specific food being tested and how your body reacts. It can take several hours.
Results time: Results from an oral food challenge are typically available on the same day because they’re based on your immediate reactions during the test.
How Long Does Allergy Testing Take With Nectar?
We’ve covered taking allergy tests in other office or lab settings, but how long does allergy testing take with Nectar? You can book any of these tests at our allergy clinic in NYC where we care for environmental and food allergies, asthma, and eczema for all ages (6 months and older) in one innovative and comprehensive center.
You can also order your Indoor and Outdoor Allergy Test with just a few clicks. Our home testing kit is delivered right to your door to be taken at your convenience.
Activating Your Nectar Allergy Home Test
Estimated time: ~8 minutes
When your blood allergy test kit arrives, the first step is to activate it. It’s part of your medical record, so it’s vital that you fill all the information out properly. You’ll be prompted to follow these steps:
- Create your Nectar account
- Activate your allergy test
- Fill out a 5-minute survey
- Take your test
Taking Your Nectar At-Home Allergy Test
Estimated time: ~35 minutes, including wait time for the sample to dry
Once you’ve activated your test, you can find clear instructions for how Nectar allergy tests work including details on how to collect your blood sample. To prepare, wash your hands in warm water for 30 seconds to get the blood flowing. Sanitize your finger with the alcohol wipe and use the lancet as directed to prick your finger and fill out your test card. Be sure not to touch the card directly and follow all instructions provided.
After you’ve finished taking your allergy test, wait 30 minutes for the blood sample to fully dry before packing it up and preparing it to be mailed back to us.
Getting Your Nectar Allergy Test Results
Estimated time: 2 to 3 weeks
Our blood allergy tests are analyzed by a CLIA-certified laboratory to ensure accurate results. You can expect your results in 2 to 3 weeks, delivered right to your Nectar account, no doctor’s office visit necessary.
Allergy testing plays a crucial role in diagnosing and managing allergies. The choice of which test to undergo depends on which allergies you want to be tested for, your medical history, and the guidance of a healthcare provider. Accurate allergy testing will help identify triggers, guide your treatment plan, and improve your quality of life.
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