When you hear “allergic reaction,” the first thing that pops into your head is an image of someone struggling to breathe with a puffy face and panicky adults all around. This is considered to be the most severe reaction, called anaphylaxis. No doubt, this is a terrifying allergic reaction to have. An important note is that an allergy test itself can also cause anaphylaxis. Here’s what you should know.

How can an allergy test cause anaphylaxis?

It seems strange that an allergy test could cause anaphylaxis. After all, isn’t the test supposed to protect you from having an allergic reaction? This is true, but the allergy test is done in order to see what creates a reaction in the first place. A skin prick, the traditional way of allergy testing, is designed to introduce any allergens to your skin, and it will create a welt where the allergen is that caused a reaction with your body.

The skin prick test requires a small amount of food allergen being put in a small cut that is made by the pick of a specialized needle. In very rare cases with those who are dealing with severe allergies, this small amount of allergen can be enough to trigger a full-body anaphylactic reaction. At that point, epinephrine will be given to counteract the reaction.

It’s important to remember that it is very rare for this kind of reaction to occur during a skin prick test, as it’s designed to minimize contact with your bloodstream, and only a tiny amount of the potential allergen is used. However, “rare” does not mean impossible. Certain allergens and certain immune systems are more at risk than others.

How can you avoid anaphylaxis during a test?

If you are especially nervous about having an anaphylactic reaction during an allergy test, you can ask the clinician who is doing the test about its likelihood and what the plan of action is in case it was to occur. This can offer a lot of peace of mind in helping you to know that you’ll be safe and protected in case.

Another option is to consider another way of testing. Blood sample testing is as effective in its results (if not more so), and since the testing itself is done on a blood sample that is sent into a lab, there is no chance of anaphylaxis happening.

Fearing anaphylaxis from the allergy test can easily make it a much more terrifying experience before you even step into the room. If this is something that is particularly unsettling, it’s always best to talk to the professional who will be performing the test or considering another testing option.

While it’s nerve-wracking to learn that anaphylaxis is possible from a classic skin prick allergy test, it has happened in rare circumstances. That’s one of the many reasons why another form of allergy testing is out there. Having options is always a good thing, and this is certainly the case if you are concerned about anaphylaxis.