“At what age can my child get tested for allergies?” This is a question I often get asked by parents of young children. Many parents and some healthcare providers believe that allergy testing cannot be done until 3 years of age. This is not true. This belief comes from the fact that most children begin developing seasonal allergies around age 3. However, many children have already developed allergies to other things (ie. indoor allergens and/or foods) by then.
Allergy skin testing is a technique that can detect allergic antibodies present in the blood by placing a small amount of the allergen on the skin and monitoring the response. Allergic antibodies can develop at any age. So if symptoms are consistent with an allergic process, allergy testing can be done. Although I prefer to wait to do a skin test around 1 year of age, many infants particularly those with severe eczema or a possible food allergy need to have some form of allergy testing done much earlier-and it can be done!
Many parents (myself included!) have found it very helpful to know what specifically their child is allergic to, even if they aren’t ready to start on allergy shots. This information can help clarify what time of year it is critical to give allergy medications daily, and when they may used on an as needed basis. Also, if a child is allergic to indoor allergens (ie. dust mite or dog) we can work on ways to decrease exposure to those allergens, thereby decreasing symptoms, which may then decrease the need for allergy medications- which is always desirable, especially for little ones!