TODAY: Skin Prick Test - A Meeting with Allergens

I've had it with these allergies. It's about time that I meet most, if not, all of them face to face.

Okay, I'm playing tough there. I have a thing with needles or sharp objects. It's not phobic though, it's just that I have "a thing" about them, that stresses me to a point. And I know that today I will undergo multiple needle/lancet pricks. My allergologist said that I will be exposed to fifty, take note: fifty allergens today which means fifty pricks as well. Geez.

Well, it was confirmed to me about 5-6 years ago through a skin prick test that I have allergies to seafood, latex and bananas (which as per my allergologist's explanation, has a close relevance to each other) and other stuff. But lately, I've been suspecting that I might have developed a rather more extensive allergy to a lot of things - including the air. So I decided it's about time that I undergo another test. I visited my allergologist today and here's what happened.

The above photos are photos of my left forearm, prior to the test. Notice the redness of my skin and some of the rashes on it? That's my normal skin condition. Most of my rashes start off as itchy, red marks forming into fluid-filled blisters. When they are scratched, both consciously and unconsciously, the blisters will either form bloody dots underneath my skin or blood-filled blisters. When further scratched, the blister will pop and will leave a small open wound on my skin. I have ugly scars all over my body because of these nasty allergies. I know what you're thinking, they're gross. Hahaha. :)

And the cause of these allergies? God only knows. I take a bath three times every day, if you will ask. I use mild products. I hate the sun. So therefore, I pretty much take care of my skin. In fact I'm OC in taking care of my skin. I had a severe allergic attack last 2006 and it has been always been this way ever since. It's a hard and long fought battle, seriously.

Moving on, the doc started drawing marks on my forearms. These are the areas where she will "gently" prick all those allergens on the surface of my skin.

You see, the purpose of a skin prick test is to determine allergies of a person specifically to dust, pollen, pet dander, and food. The doc will definitely ask you if you have been taking anti-histamines recently because if you do, the test will yield negative results because the skin will not react to the allergens. Lucky me, the last time I took Iterax was about two or three weeks ago.

After prepping the skin using an alcohol swab, the doc started pricking me with lancets that were immersed in the allergen samples. I admit, although it's not the most painful pricking I ever experienced, it really stressed me to a point that I had to keep talking to distract myself. hehehe. The thing that bothered me the most was I just want it to be over soon. Fifty pricks took a very long time to finish.

The above photo shows how the skin on my right forearm reacted right away to the allergens. Notice the red marks? My skin (as expected) reacted quite fast, way before the test was even finished. Okay, twenty-five more pricks on my left forearm. Way to go!

Okay. My skin looks infected with all sorts of unknown allergens now. That's the condition of my skin five minutes after all the allergens were injected. I know they look itchy, but in reality, they burn and itch like hell. Unfortunately, I cannot scratch or touch them. Good thing Em is a good instrument of distraction. He kept me company and talked about the food we're gonna eat later. The doc said we had to wait a good fifteen minutes before we can identify the stuff I'm allergic to. If the test is positive, a red, itchy, raised bump is to be expected. If it's negative, of course, it's otherwise. Larger wheals indicate a higher sensitivity to that particular allergen/s.

Wheals getting more visible and bigger after ten minutes. I know you're scratching yourself while looking at this, hehehe. :)

Finally! After fifteen minutes, I got what I expected. Itchy and red skin all over. I even thought I was gonna have an allergic shock because the bumps and rashes even formed outside of the pen perimeter! hahaha. :)

Now, it's connect the dots time! The doc started identifying the allergens by measuring the wheals formed. My total score? 22/50!!! That's quite high according to my allergologist. And I tell you, I have the weirdest allergies.

My twenty-two allergies in chronological order. Starting from the strongest to the weakest allergy.

  • Mite strand (D. pteronyssinus)
  • Mite strand (D. farinae)
  • Cockroach Mix
  • Celery
  • Crab Mix (Shrimp, seafood)
  • Egg
  • Pea
  • Potato
  • Soybean
  • Tomato
  • Dog hair dander
  • Dust, House Mix
  • Histamine (+ control)
  • Lamb
  • Mangoes
  • Cow's Milk
  • Cat hair strand
  • Feather Mix
  • Orris Root (makeup/perfume)
  • Pyrethrum (insecticides/flowers)
  • Alternaria alternata (leaves/associated with upper respiratory tract infections and asthma)
  • Glycerin (- control)

The allergies came as a surprise to me. I became quite alarmed with cow's milk and soybean. I am fond of milk, but knowing that I'm indeed allergic to it (includes dairy products - butter, cheese, milk chocolates, etc.) what can I do now for my calcium intake? The doc suggested I take calcium pills instead. Plus I love Japanese and Italian food - now I have to stay away from them because of my seafood and tomato allergies. What's more surprising to the doc was my reaction to celery (goodness, I dunno anyone else who is allergic to celery!) and dogs. Allergies to cats are common (but I have two cats!) but to dogs, I'm one of the chosen few.

I also have a marked allergy to dust, including dust from houses that's why the doc gave me instructions on how to set up and clean the bedroom properly. That means I have a lot of cleaning to do.

What do I do now? Oh well, I just have to refrain from eating food I'm allergic to or food containing  the stuff I'm allergic to for about three months before I gradually try to expose myself to them again. But with crabs, shrimps and seafood, I have to avoid them at all costs. She told me that if you have seafood allergy, it's gonna be there forever. Only 20% of the people who has this allergy recover from it successfully. And my dust allergy is also the reason why I have a runny nose in the morning and lately, because of the crazy climate changes, I am prone to asthma attacks. Thanks to Ventolin for keeping me alive. :/

Before the doc let me go, she just reminded me of the things I need to do. For atopics (my term for people with atopic dermatitis like me), hydration and moisturizing is the topmost need. Our skin tends to dry out faster than normal rates that's why it becomes prone to allergies and all that jazz. Heat and our own sweat causes us to have allergies. And so, antihistamines check. Anti-inflammatory creams check. Hypo-allergenic and non-comedogenic makeup check.

Oh well, this is life. My life. Now that I met more of my enemies, at least I'm armed. Allergy is such a heavy burden. Sometimes I cry because of utter desperation and frustration. At one point you're okay with this makeup, then the next day you're not. There's no one to blame actually. There's no actual cure but it's treatable and severe attacks are preventable. I just have to accept that fact and avoid what I need to avoid. Allergies can cause death so I just have to remind myself that I need to survive.

As we went out of the hospital, Em said "Ikaw kasi, you're made in Taiwan. Ang hina ng pagkakagawa sa'yo." hahaha. :) Next project: Skin patch test. Another ouch. :/

Do you have allergies too? How are you dealing with them?


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