Allergy Testing

Parent Q&A

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  • My son has had eczema since he was one. He is now almost two and a half. After going the natural route for more than a year, I had to finally succumb to steroids for 15 days, and now that my son is off them, his eczema is flaring again. My son has a diagnosed dust mite allergy, but according to the skin prick test at Kaiser, he does not have allergy to mold, wheat, dairy, egg, tomato. He has not yet had any other allergy testing yet. We have gotten an IQAir filter to clean the air in his room, along with a dust mite cover for his organic mattress. We have gotten rid of the stuffed animals because they harbor dust mites, cleared out his room so that there is no clutter or upholstered furniture in it. We still live in a carpeted rental house and are looking for a house with hardwood floors, but it may be more than a year before we can move. Our son has obvious gut and detox issues that we are working on.

    In our course of natural treatment, we have used organic butters/oils (shea, castor, jojoba, hemp, rose hip, argan, tanamu, tallow balm, coconut, olive oil) and later had to use more conventional creams like Aveeno baby eczema, Cerave and Vanicream. We have used probiotic spray, soap nuts for laundry, goat milk soap, bentonite clay, cilantro baths, epsom salt baths, probiotics like Prescript-Assist and Jarrodophilus), fermented foods (and then later, a low-histamine diet), turmeric/garlic/ginger/, vitamin D (from sun and supplement), keeping house clean, washing sheets in frequently in hot water, drinking filtered water, filtering chlorine from the shower water, omega 3's, gelatin, organic chicken livers, bone broth, ACV, lemon water, green smoothies/juices, fermented cod liver oil, organic cotton and cotton clothing, clean/organic/grassfed/pastured/wild diet of veg/fruit/egg yolks/meat/chicken/fish. Our son is also gluten-free and dairy-free to help with his inflammation. There are several other things we have tried, but it's hard remembering them all.

    Recently we went to a naturopath for the first time. Paid $600 out of pocket (Kaiser does not reimburse) for a 1.5 hour appt. only to hear maybe 10-15% new info that I had not yet come across while researching myself. The new things we are trying at her recommendation are borage oil and zinc supplements. The ND also recommends igG and igE testing. Was confused about the igE testing because the ND says that a person does not have to try one of the foods on the igE test before testing positive for an allergic reaction. (My child has not yet tried oats orally-- only oatmeal baths). However, it was always my understanding that in order for an allergic reaction to show up, you need to have had the food at least once. Would appreciate any feedback on how helpful those tests were in your experience before we invest in them, or would appreciate more eczema or dust mite allergy tips. Thank you so much in advance.

    Sorry to hear that your son is suffering from this condition. I have had severe eczema (and asthma) my entire life. As an adult I have seen half a dozen dermatologists, 3 allergists, a naturopath, and an acupuncturist. I have had skin prick testing, patch testing, IgG and IgE testing and NAET.  I found out through the prick testing that I have dust mite, pollen, and some animal fur/dander allergies (I have 2 cats and have always had cats), some mild mold, shell fish and chemical sensitivities from "formaldehyde releasers" especially in personal care products.  I did not learn anything new from the IgG and IgE testing and it didn't pick up on any food allergies, so I think the prick test was more accurate.  I have done all the same things you have (dust mite control, water filter system, hepa filters, eating organic, non-scented detergents, special soaps, sunscreens, lotions without chemicals such as methylchloroisothiazolinone or other preservatives).  I didn't show a huge allergy to wheat, but I noticed that not eating it or sugar really helped my symptoms, but I had some relief with the dietary change and from probiotics. The treatments from the naturopath or acupuncturist didn't help much.  Now I am working with an allergist closely. I have tried all the steroid creams and ointments and got some temporary relief. What absolutely worked was a new ointment called Protopic or tacrolumis.  It is an immunosuppressant ointment.  It has some warnings on the package insert which were concerning, but it saved my life because the scratching and rash were making me crazy.  It really works and does not thin your skin like steroid creams.  It gave me the first relief in years.  I also take antihistamines daily. I tried oral immunotherapy (sublingual drops) which didn't help too much and now doing self administered allergy shots.  A friend, who stayed with me who was allergic to cats, said the allergy shots really made a difference in her life.  The needle is very small so doesn't hurt very much, although I don't know how a small child would feel about it.  I also take baths or rinse with dilute vinegar (specifically Bragg's organic) which in theory is supposed to help the skin pH and kill the "bad" bacteria and replace with "good".  I know my skin seems to harbor a bit more staph aureus than most people, so when I have a flare up I use a three pronged approach on the areas - antibiotic ointment, mild steroid cream, and protopic ointment after a vinegar bath.  I seems to knock it back.  I have to buy my lotions, shampoos, soaps from EU (which has outlawed the nasty formaldehyde releasing chemicals or buy from Whole Foods. Nivea cream from Germany is the only skin cream I can use, although is petroleum based, but I can't find anything else that doesn't make me itch.  Sometimes the natural products have a lot of weird plant extracts, so I might be allergic to those. And I'd probably be a lot better off if I got rid of my cats, but I just can't do that, so that is why I am trying allergy shots!  Bottom line, I would not spend the money on IgE or IgE and ask your dermatologist for Protopic and consider allergy shots for long term!  Good luck!

    I don't have advice about those tests. I'm posting because I suffered mightily from eczema as a child. When I was 13, my parents took me to a dermatologist who changed my life. His advice was simple (and I apologize if this is too basic for you): moisturize every day. Neutrogena hand cream for hands. Aveeno for body. Dove soap. No wool. Don't pop the little blisters! Steroid cream as needed for flare-ups. Long term, steroids can thin the skin, but if used sparingly, it's okay. Really.

    Eczema is not necessarily an allergic reaction to anything. Maybe your son's isn't... I really encourage you to try the easy route and see if it works. Best of luck with this

    Read about histamine intolerance: it might give you a new prospective on eczema.

    Soaking in a bath with dilute bleach works amazingly well to get rid of eczema.  I had eczema I could not cure for years and I still avoid soaps, which if used excessively triggers the rash to reappear. 

    Simply put a 1/2 cup bleach into a bathtub of water, soak for 10 minutes and apply your steroid cream (or just vaseline if mild) afterwards.  It cleared me up within 2 weeks.  It works by getting rid of the infection and associated itching. 

    Here is the article from the NYT that I found the cure in:

    Good luck! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Food Sensitivity Testing

Aug 2011

My sister has recently had some testing done for food sensitivities, and has been told she needs to eliminate many many things from her diet to regain a sense of well- being (eggs, wheat, gluten, peas, corn, beans, most nuts, all dairy). Needless to say, very restrictive. I've been reading with interest the recent posts on this subject and have some questions about the testing itself that is used to determine those foods that someone is sensitive to. Firstly, are all of these tests created equal, or is one test more ''sensitive'' than another? Is there a gold standard for this test? Are there different ways to interpret the resuls? Are some folks more skilled than others in interpreting the results? Who around here provides the most accurate testing and the best counsel once the results are determined? Many thanks for your insights. Signed: Learning to live with fewer choices

We have a daughter who has a lot of food allergies who was tested by the blood test method. I myself have also seen an allergist recently at PAMF - Palo Alto Medical Foundation. They said that the blood test is pretty good, but prefer to use the skin prick test which is a lot more accurate and gives instant results.

We are actually meeting with them on Thursday to arrange for a skin prick test in the next few weeks to retest her as it's been 2.5 years since her first test.

We've attacked the change in diet pretty much head on which is the best way to tackle the situation. Don't think of it in terms of what you can't have and in a negative view, but more about how you can achieve foods that you want to eat with a new approach. It's actually quite a lot of fun trying to figure out new recipes and we're pretty lucky that health food shops provide a lot of support for allergies. Rice bread and millet bread from wholefoods instead of regular bread. Rice pastas .. etc

You can exchange eggs for egg replacer to make things like cakes, breads and pancakes. Using rice, quinoa, millet and other replacements instead of what, corn.

It's always worth getting a second opinion from another doctor if you want to be sure.

Good luck for your sister and hope she embraces the change instead of dreading it. yjb

I can't tell you about testing, but I can say that if your sister is ill from possible food allergies or sensitivities it makes sense to eliminate all the culprit foods for several weeks (or recommended time) and add them back one by one. (Elimination or rotation diet). She will find out which one/s are really the culprits. Been there

Really, the way to find out is to eliminate those foods for at least a full month and slowly add them back in. She is firstly likely to feel a lot better, though frustrated, with figuring out how to implement the changes. Except in the case of gluten, where she could be celiac and have no symptoms, she will likely be able to tell a difference when she adds the foods in.

Keep in mind that a food sensitivity is different than an intolerance or an allergy. A food sensitivity should come with a ranking of some sort. Some foods might, for example, fall into the never eat catagory, whereas others will fall into the not more than once a week catagory. If she has not been talked to about food rotation, then she should do some reading up on it. Food sensitivities can change over time, but pretty much, except for eggs, and only when they are high quality free-range organic eggs, I am still sensitive to the same foods 14 years after I was tested. Wheat was in the original never eat catagory and I later discovered I am celiac. Foods that were listed as me being less sensitive to, and recommended to eat once a week or less, still affect my health when I eat those foods more often.

Just a note - is her dairy ALL dairy or COW dairy? That might be a good one to ask about or test. My son cannot do cow dairy at all. Goat and sheep dairy are totally fine however. found the testing accurate

Dr. Sicherer and his colleagues have done much research on this. They are the cited sources for the food allergy article on Wikipedia and Dr. Sicherer has a well written book that answers your questions. In specifics, they focus only on immune mediated analysis and in particular, on Ig allergies, in other words allergies that involve antibody reactions. None of their testing is fool proof and Dr. Sicherer explains why and when the errors occur.

No matter what test you use, there will always be false negatives and false positives. The only way to know for sure what you can tolerate is to go on a minimum diet (like rice and lamb) see how you feel, and add things back slowly as you check reactions. anon

My husband has just gone through the ''gold standard'' of food intolerance testing. Apparently the blood tests often give a lot of false positives and not really that accurate. This testing is done by analyzing fecal matter...(I know, gross for me to even write it).

It's done through this lab... which was recommended by my husband's rheumatologist (he has psoriatic arthritis which he suspected has been caused by years of food related allergies).

It surprisingly was even covered by our insurance. Of course now he is on a gluten free diet (not fun) lisa