No parent wants to see their child miserable, which is what often leads them to the allergist in the first place. Now your allergist is recommending skin prick tests before beginning immunotherapy. Don't let your memories of these tests and treatments color your opinion – testing and shots have come a long way in the last few years. The following tips will help you prepare both yourself and your child for treatment.
Forget the Old School Tests
Anyone that had a skin prick allergy test has a child remembers the discomfort and pain. The allergist inserted potential allergens under the skin, usually on the back, arm or upper thigh. The process was uncomfortable, and if you were allergic, you were rewarded with itching, burning and painful skin.
Current skin prick tests use a very small amount of the allergen suspended in a fluid, which is then dropped onto the skin. The skin is then barely pricked to allow the allergen access, and the reaction is noted. The worst possible sensation is that of a mosquito bite, and often it's not even that severe.
Preparing Your Child
Your allergist will have some requirements you will need to follow to prepare your child. Generally, this will require taking your child off of any allergy medications for seven days prior to the testing.
Whether you prepare your child emotionally for the test is up to you. Some children can handle the testing better if they aren't expecting it, because they become anxious as they anticipate the test. Other children respond better when they know what to expect. You know your child best, and your allergist can further help you approach the subject with your child.
Demonstrating the test can help your child cope, because they will know what to expect. You can poke their skin gently with a toothpick to simulate how the skin test feels, and let them know there may be some itching afterward.
Most children are more relaxed if a parent is with them throughout the test. This means you must keep your own anxiety in check. Young children may need to be held, while older children just may want you nearby.
You and your allergist should encourage questions from the child. Your allergist may show the child some of the testing instruments and demonstrate how they work. Not only does this help relieve your child's anxiety, it also provides a distraction.
Bring some quiet entertainment for after the testing, such as a book, tablet, or small toy. You and your child will need to remain in the office until the reaction develops at the testing site, which can take 15 minutes or more. For more advice, speak with experts like Oak Brook Allergists.