If you suspect you have a bee sting allergy, the best thing you can do for yourself is get tested. Knowing your allergies gives you the ability to plan and protect yourself adequately. When you get tested, doctors choose two primary methods. Learn the differences between an allergy blood test vs. skin test. Then, follow up with a local medical professional about testing.
How Are Bee Sting Allergies Tested?
A specific type of antibody, called IgE, causes allergic reactions. IgE is in your blood and skin, which is why both types of tests work. With a blood test, the lab can determine if you have a high IgE level for a specific type of allergen. A skin test forces your IgE antibodies to respond to an allergen in a controlled setting. Both tests can produce false-positive results and, in unclear circumstances, may be used together to understand an allergy.
Blood Test Advantages for Bee Sting Allergies
Blood testing isn’t as standard as skin testing for bee sting allergies. But there are good reasons to do blood testing, and it can also provide additional clarity to skin test results.
No Contact with Allergen
The primary benefit of blood testing is that it does not put the patient in contact with the allergen. If your last bee sting produced an incredibly severe reaction, your doctor might not want to put you in contact with venom again. This may be decided out of caution (even though skin testing is highly controlled) or to prevent anxiety.
Ability to Continue Antihistamine Medications
Another benefit of blood testing is that you will not need to stop taking a daily antihistamine if you take one. Patients are often asked to stop taking their antihistamines for a few days in advance for skin testing.
Drawing Blood is Quick
Lastly, blood testing doesn’t require much of your time. You’ll simply need to go to a lab to have your blood drawn. Skin testing can take about half a day.
Skin Test Advantages for Bee Sting Allergies
Skin testing requires putting your body in contact with bee venom. This may be done with a prick and tiny drop of diluted venom or by injecting a minimal amount of venom under your skin. Skin testing is safe, controlled, and often a preferred method for testing.
Unlike blood testing, you don’t need to wait days to hear back from the lab. Within 20-30 minutes of being tested, you will see your results for yourself! In a skin test, you will be challenged with increasing amounts of venom. So, while it does take a few hours to make it through the testing, you will leave the clinic informed.
More Likely to Detect Allergies
Skin tests are more sensitive than blood tests. This is due to the test’s general nature, putting you in direct contact with a potential allergen. A skin test is more likely to detect results that a blood test may miss.
Talk to a Local Medical Professional About Allergy Testing
Do you think you have an allergy to bee or wasp stings? Don’t wait until your next sting to find out! Now that you’ve learned the difference between an allergy blood test vs. skin test, talk to a local specialist. Do it as soon as possible because your safety matters.