November 10, 2010,
M.E. asks from Collegeville, PA on November 06, 2010
3 Year Old Allergy Testing
My 3 year old has been struggling with itchy eyes and nose off and on for the last year or 2. I hate to medicate him for allergies because I keep thinking he just has a cold that won't go away. But the doctor always says he has allergies because of the way his eyes look and the allergy salute where he keeps rubbing at his nose. I think it has become a habit also because now he rubs his whole mouth and nose and he has rubbed his sensitive skin on his cheeks and chin to where it is sore and red. This happened a few months ago and then went away, now it's back. At his last visit, he had an ear infection, and the doctor recommended he go to an allergist and get allergy testing after his antibiotics for the ear infection are finished. I have an appointment for him in a little over a week, and I was wondering if anyone can tell me what to expect. What is involved with allergy testing for a young child? Did anyone have this done on their child and was it worth it in the end? Did the test actually tell you what they're allergic too and allow you to make improvements? I want this to help him, but I'm a bit skeptical about how this will help.
T.B. answers from Pittsburgh on November 07, 2010
My daughter had allergy testing at 2-1/2 as her nighttime cough was especially persistent. The first test they did was actually at a lab - they drew blood and did a "outside environmental" RAST test. We found out she was allergic to most trees, cats (a little) and dogs (a lot). They put her on Singulair for cough-induced asthma and it seemed to help until she had a reaction to peanuts. We gave her Benadryl and the doctor wanted her to see the allergist right away, so they ran another blood test, this time for food allergens. She came up highly allergic (over 16 on the RAST test means "Epipen") to peanuts, and mildly allergic to soy, cod fish, milk, wheat, walnuts and egg.
Her allergist, Dr. Green at Pittsburgh's CHOP, isn't a fan of medicating, so he's encouraged us to continue eating the "mildly" allergic items, but then ran a "prick test" on her also. That's the one people fear and I would suggest you bring your hubby or a family member with you. We brought a portable DVD player with her favorite movie as they quickly "scratch" the forearm with a short round of allergens. I think she had 10 in all, and the woman was a pro - I think she did it in 40 seconds! The trick is then to not touch the area for 10 minutes. My husband held her arm straight and away from her, I held her on my lap and hugged her, and we watched the movie until they came back and confirmed that her worst outside allergy is the dog one. She has had one more blood test to confirm her nut allergy is mostly all nuts (Epipen for peanuts, and then a baseline allergy to all other nuts), but since she vomits violently every time she has had nuts, they won't do a skin prick test as it's redundant.
One more thing. If the allergist does only ONE test (blood or prick) and your son hasn't had a direct reaction to the item that he tests positive for, he may NOT be allergic. For instance, my SIL tested positive for the peanut allergy, but has never had a reaction and eats PB&J all the time. Dr. Green explained that you need to test positive on all tests and/or have one test and a direct response (vomiting, hives, anaphylaxis, wheezing, etc.) in order to be "ALLERGIC". Lots of people may be simply intolerant or sensitive to things like lactose, nuts, eggs, etc...
E.G. answers from York on November 07, 2010
I was like you and hated the idea of having my son tested/put on meds for allergies. Not being an allergy sufferer myself, I really didn't understand it all. But people do really suffer with allergies! Their bodies are attacking the allergen and have to work so hard to do so. Giving allergy medication is actually a very kind thing. Their little bodies get so exhausted from fighting the allergen, the medication gives them necessary relief.
My little guy was only 11 months old when he got tested for 16 things. Ended up showing a sensitivity to only 3 (grass, peanuts and shellfish). With further blood testing they were able to see the peanut allergy is a high positive but the the shellfish allergy was negative. So we wait another year for the "skin-prick" method for the shellfish and if it comes out negative as well he will be clear for eating that. They've also told us that many times peanut allergies are outgrown, and we really hope that will be the case. :(
Anyway, our son from birth seemd to suffer with sniffles, puffy eyes, sneezes,etc. We just wanted to find out what we needed to do to help him. We were worried that if it was pets, we'd need to get rid of our dog and cats. But luckily its not. For the grass allergy we bathe him every night in the summer months and he also gets Zyrtec and we notice a big difference. He feels so much better, you can tell!!
Thanks for helping your little guy by seeing what he may be allergic too. You will be doing a world of good for him. :)
D.W. answers from Philadelphia on November 07, 2010
I would say take him to the allergist. They will probably tell you to get of things that contain dust and that are allergens such as stuffed animals,if he has a rug in his room or even animals that you have. I would get him an air purifier for his room. Try some zyrtec before he goes to bed. See if that helps. I hope you get some answers and he starts to feel better.
M.P. answers from Pittsburgh on November 07, 2010
Get the allergy tests so that you will know. They will test for all environmentals as well as certain high allergy foods. When my son had it done they wrote with a pen on his back about 20 numbers. And then they took a mini bit of the allergen and pricked his skin with it(this did not hurt him in the least-didn't even react to it really) The hard part is the sitting and waiting. You need to wait 20 minutes to see if the little spots react-the ones that do are what he has an allergy to. But it is super itchy and you can't scratch it. I sat there the whole time and waved a book over it and blew on it to help with this. When the test is over they will dose him with Benadryl to help the itching,
My doctor wants me to do allergy shots with my son and I think that I am going to. He said that there is a 70% chance that the shots will cure him of the allergy. My son suffers from allergy induced asthma so it is worth the hassle IMO.
My advice would be to bring something to entertain your son while you wait the 20 minutes. And bring another person if possible.
B.D. answers from Pittsburgh on November 07, 2010
2 years is an awful long time for your little one to suffer, especially when he is only 3! Yes definitely take him for allergy testing. Depending on the allergist and the symptoms they may either do a skin test, blood work, or both. Irregardless they will be able to determine the proper treatment plan to minimize your sons allergies so that he no longer suffers with all of the symptoms.
J.J. answers from Allentown on November 07, 2010
Both of my kids were tested around a year old. They did the scratch test first on their backs and then the blood test. Both kids have seasonal allergies to trees as well as dusts and molds. My daughter has a severe peanut allergy which is why I originally took her due to a reaction from being kissed after I ate a peanut butter cup. My son has no food allergies. My daughter is on daily Zyrtec, but my son gets by just fine with nothing. His seem much milder, no itchy nose, allergy eyes, etc. But my daughter does so much better on the zyrtec. Expect them to do either skin testing or blood testing or both. It will tell you what he is allergic to and it will help him so you know what to avoid or when to give meds. If he is allergic to a certain type of tree keep him indoors for the two weeks that tree is blooming or make sure you have meds if you can't keep him in. My daughter is on zyrtec year round, and i do have a nasal spray for my son to use as needed. I also carry an Epi-Pen, steroids and benedryl for my daughter's peanut allergy. I am not a person to give meds easily, not for anything, but for this I finally have to concede it helps. I have allergies myself and often choose to suffer over taking the meds, but I am adult and I can make that choice knowing how miserable I will feel and there are times it gets so bad even I, take the meds. And I often give my daughter the choice now if she wants her zyrtec and she always does. She doesn't like the taste much but she obviously knows it makes her feel better. You and he will really both benefit from having this info. Good luck!
C.S. answers from Philadelphia on November 07, 2010
i didn't read all the replies so sorry if this is repetitive, but don't give our child any benedryl or other allergy meds 72 hours before your appointment or your allergy test won't be accurate. they need to be completely out of his system
D.S. answers from Allentown on November 06, 2010
check the web at
look up "KidsDigest"
K.W. answers from Cedar Rapids on November 06, 2010
Hello M., My 3yr has had lots of allergy test done due to seasonal and food allergies. They will do a test on his back of what they think he may be allergic to. When my son had it done they did 6 different spots on his back and the test was pretty clear on what he was allergic to. Since then he has had fewer asthma attacks which start out as allergies. The test only takes 15mins. I hope this helps and I hope you get the results you are looking for. It sucks when our kids suffer from this stuff and we have no clue what they are allergic to. Good Luck!
L.R. answers from Pittsburgh on November 07, 2010
My son had been on meds for his allergies since he was three. I actually finally had him tested this past summer. He is 9. I have allergies myself and knew he has similar allerigies to me. His medication needed to be adjusted and our doctor told me I had waited long enough to get him tested. It is basically a bunch of small scratches on his forarm that will react if he is allergic to a certain thing. For example: trees, mold, animals. This is the time for rag weed until the first big frosts happen so that could be why your little one is bothered.
I am glad I finally had it done because know I know exactly what he is allergic to and how to cycle his medication. Mine basically needs it all year with a two month break. I would not have known this and he would have kept getting sinus infections. It can be very itchy for a few minutes and he wont be able to scratch his arm so be prepared for that. That was the most difficult part of the whole process. Good luck.
S.P. answers from Scranton on November 10, 2010
With all the chemicals in our environment, allergies are getting worse and worse. Do your best to keep him away from chemicals. Get him one of those pillows that have a cover, so it doesn't hold dust mites. Wash bedding once a week, including blankets. Make sure floor is kept clean. I hate carpets because they hold dust mites in bad. If you have carpets, make sure you vacuum often (every day if possible) with a vacuum with a hepa filter if you can. They are a great investment, and well worth it. Clean with natural cleaners. Some of the household cleaners on the market are the worse, esp. bleach. Mop floors every day to rid your house of dust mites. Dust with damp clothes often, esp. where he spends the most time i your house. No smoking around him!!
T.C. answers from York on November 07, 2010
WOW - I swear reading your post is like an insight as to what I just went through with my son. My son was digging at the corners of his eyes so bad that the corners of his eyes were bleeding. Then he started scratching the corners of his mouth until they were all chapped and raw. We went on vacation and EVERY picture I had of him his finger was either in his eye or rubbing the corners of his mouth. The whole time my pediatrician kept telling me - "just give him some Benadryl and it will go away" but it never did. I finally got sick of listening to my pediatrician and was just sick of not being able to give my son some sort of relief, so I took him to an allergist. My son is almost 5 so I don't know if it would be exactly the same but first she asked me lots of questions, then she examined him (looked in his eyes and nose etc ) and she said that he definitely had signs of allergies and recommended that we do testing. That same day we did them. Now I will prepare you - my son is VERY good with shots - he hops right up on the table and rolls his sleeve up for the nurses when he gets a shot at the pediatrician but the allergy testing - he did NOT like!!! They basically wrote on his back with a marker (numbers 1-13) and then did a skin test - a series of 13 pricks that introduced 12 allergens and a control to his skin. I think it was the fact that it was on his back and he didn't see it coming - but my son went berserk!! Although now he thinks nothing of it and still likes going ot see Dr. Michelle (the allergist) : ) - it was quite traumatic for BOTH of us at the time. Once we got through that - everything else was a piece of cake - we waited 15 minutes and they looked at his back and were able to determine what he was allergic to and we got the results that day before we left the office. We only did 1/3 of the tests, we didn't do food or medicines, we just did the basics: cat, dog, dust, weeds . . . and we found out that my son was allergic to 9 of the 12 things that they tested him for!!! The allergist recommended nasal spray , eye drops and zyrtec which my son now takes on a daily basis and it definitelly has helped. ALOT!!! He still rubs his eyes every now and then but so much less it's amazing!! I hate that I have to "medicate" him everyday, and the cost of the medication does add up, BUT, the degree to which he has improved and the difference that I have seen have been worth it all - 100%!!!!
A.C. answers from Columbus on November 06, 2010
Yes, allergy testing was worth it. Our son was tested for various allergies at age 20 months, after a severe allergic reaction. In addition to a severe allergy to peanuts, he is also allergic to dogs and cats (and we have 2 dogs).
Anyway, typically, then do "scratch tests" were a very small amount of the allergen is pricked into the skin. They do it in sets of 6 (or maybe 8) at a time, and do a bunch in a row. They'll probably test for food and environmental allergies. Some of the spots they will circle with a pen (I'm not sure why). They will wait about 15 or 20 minutes, then the doc will come in and read the results.
This will help you to find out what sorts of things you should trying to avoid, and also what things you can try to do to manage his systems and flare ups.
According to both the pediatrician & allergist, the congestion that comes from allergies can actually end up being a major culprit in ear infections. That, plus the snoring cause by the congestion and that our little guy seemed tired all the time (because he wasn't sleeping well due to the congestion/snoring) caused us to go ahead and decide to give medication. He's been on Singulair and is currently on Zyrtec. We have noticed a difference.