South African Family Practice

Log in or Register to get access to full text downloads.

Remember me or Register

A guide to performing skin-prick testing in practice: tips and tricks of the trade

O Coetzee, RJ Green, R Masekela


Atopy can manifest in childhood as infantile eczema (atopic dermatitis), allergic rhinitis and asthma. In practice, it is critical to identify the offending allergen in atopic individuals. This will not only influence therapeutic interventions, but may also have a significant impact on the individual’s quality of life. The most common clinical test for allergy detection is the introduction of an allergen directly into the skin in the form of a skin-prick test. Skin-prick testing is recommended in the diagnostic workup for allergies because it is reliable, safe, convenient, inexpensive, minimally invasive, and has the advantage of multiple allergen testing in one, 15- to 20-minute, test. Skin-prick testing can be performed from birth onwards. Although there is a small risk of developing anaphylaxis, the test remains safe to perform in a consultation room or at the patient’s bedside. Worldwide, a skin-prick test remains the test of choice for allergy because of its convenience and cost-effectiveness. A globally accepted guideline for skin-prick testing is still lacking and would be beneficial to both patient and physician.

Keywords: allergy, indications, contraindications, cut-off points, measurements
AJOL African Journals Online