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Animal and Insect Allergy Testing

Animals and insects are common sources of allergens that can lead to symptoms including itching, sneezing, and asthma. If you have allergies and aren’t entirely sure what’s causing your symptoms, an animal and insect allergy test may help you identify the source.

Who should get an animal and insect allergy test?

An animal and insect allergy test are ideal for anyone who is suffering from allergies and isn’t sure what’s causing them. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), common allergy symptoms include:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Hives

You should also consider having an animal and insect allergy test if you meet risk factors for allergies. Risk factors for allergies, according to the NLM, include:

  • Family history of allergies
  • Genetics
  • Race—Black people are generally at higher risk for allergies
  • Gender—Allergies are more common in males than in females
  • Age—Children tend to be highly sensitive to allergens
  • Exposure to pollution
  • Passive smoking
  • A previous infection, particularly a viral infection
  • Poor eating behaviors, such as eating right before bedtime
  • Poor nutrition

Your doctor can talk to you more about whether or not you need an animal and insect allergy test based on your family history and symptoms.

How to get an animal and insect allergy test

Your doctor may order an animal and insect allergy test if you have symptoms of allergies, says the NLM. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic conditions—known as an allergist—or to a healthcare facility that offers allergy testing services.

At-home allergy tests are an option if you want to know whether you are allergic to animals and insects without visiting a lab or doctor’s office. These tests can be purchased from pharmacies and online retailers and provide detailed instructions about how to perform the test safely and send it to a lab for evaluation.

Another way to get an animal and insect allergy test is to use Solv to locate nearby testing providers. Solv features a directory of all top-rated testing providers—including those that do allergy testing—and allows you to book an appointment directly from the website.

What are the different types of animal and insect allergy tests?

Two main types of diagnostic tests for allergies are related to pet dander and insect bites: skin tests and blood tests, reports UC San Diego Health. It adds that skin tests are the most common allergy tests.

Animal allergy skin tests

An animal allergy skin test determines whether you have immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to allergies such as animal dander and insect venom. IgE antibodies are produced by your immune system when it overreacts to a particular allergen. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), these antibodies are what triggers an allergic reaction.

Animal allergy blood tests

The NLM says there are two different blood tests for allergies: a total IgE test and a specific IgE test. A total IgE test measures the total amount of IgE antibodies in your blood, and a specific IgE test measures the amount of IgE your body makes in response to a single allergen, such as honeybee venom.

The NLM adds that a separate test is performed for each allergen your provider thinks may be causing your allergies. A blood allergy test is usually done when a skin test cannot be done, such as if you have a skin condition that prevents testing.

What to expect during an animal and insect allergy test

During a skin test, your provider will apply a small amount of pet dander or insect venom to your skin, then prick the area to see if you experience an allergic reaction to these substances. If a raised, reddish spot forms on your skin within 15 to 20 minutes, you may be diagnosed with an allergy, reports the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

If the skin prick test is negative or inconclusive, your provider may perform an intradermal skin test. During an intradermal skin test, a small amount of the allergen, such as bee venom, is injected under your skin. Then, the injection site is watched closely for about 15 minutes for an allergic reaction. The ACAAI says the intradermal skin test is usually more accurate than other allergy tests at detecting the presence of IgE antibodies.

If both of the skin allergy tests are negative, your provider may recommend doing an allergy blood test. During a blood allergy test, your provider will draw a small sample of blood from a vein in your arm like any other blood test, reports the NLM. Then, your blood sample is sent to the lab, where it is tested for the presence of IgE antibodies to animals and insect venom.

How to prepare for an animal and insect allergy test

The NLM says no special preparation is needed for an allergy blood test.

For an animal and insect allergy skin test, the ACAAI suggests telling your provider about all prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines you are taking. The ACAAI also recommends against taking antihistamines for three to seven days before your allergy test, as these may also interfere with your test results.

Other things to avoid before your skin test, according to UMMC Health Care, include the following:

  • Tricyclic antidepressant medication, for one week before your appointment
  • Beta-blocker medication
  • Cologne, hairspray, and scented body lotion, on the day of your appointment
  • Any products that contain antihistamines, such as antacid and antihistamine combination medicines

Find Animal and Insect Allergy Testing near you

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Animal and Insect Allergy Testing FAQs

Sources

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

  1. Allergy Blood Test (May 12, 2022)
    https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/allergy-blood-test/
  2. Allergic Diseases: A Comprehensive Review on Risk Factors, Immunological Mechanisms, Link with COVID-19, Potential Treatments, and Role of Allergen Bioinformatics (November 18, 2021)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8622387/
  3. Diagnostic Tests for Allergies (March 1, 2022)
    https://myhealth.ucsd.edu/Search/85,P00013
  4. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) Defined
    https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/allergy,-asthma-immunology-glossary/immunoglobulin-e-(ige)-defined
  5. Preparation for Allergy Testing
    https://www.umc.edu/Healthcare/ENT/Patient-Handouts/Adult/General_ENT/Allergy_Testing.html
  6. Insect Sting Allergies (February 5, 2018)
    https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/insect-sting-allergies/
  7. Testing and Diagnosis
    https://acaai.org/allergies/testing-diagnosis/
  8. When To See An Allergist
    https://acaai.org/do-you-need-an-allergist/when-to-see-an-allergist/
  9. Insect Allergies (October 2015)
    https://www.aafa.org/insect-allergy/
  10. Allergies to animals: Overview (April 23, 2020)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447109/
  11. All About Allergy Testing (September 28, 2020)
    https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/all-about-allergy-testing

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