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For those of you moving house with allergies to pet dander, be warned! Even after contact with an animal and its surroundings have ceased, the allergens may still be present on ceilings and walls. Therefore when moving ask if there have been any household pets. In which case you will have to clean the house inside and out preferably using non-chemical based detergents and steam cleaners which will help denature any allergens; having air purifiers will help in containing any airborne allergens.
Often it is enough for the doctor to know whether you have an allergy just by taking into consideration when and where you developed your symptoms. However skin tests and blood samples can confirm the diagnosis.
Skin tests are carried out by injecting or applying a diluted extract into a tiny scratch or puncture made on the patients arm or back. The diluted extract may be of dust mites, pollens, pet dander or molds commonly found in the local area.
The skin test is one way of determining whether a patient has IgE antibodies in the skin which react to a certain allergen. A positive reaction to any of the allergens will appear at the test site as a raised red reaction (called a wheal) with a surrounding flush (called a flare). This reaction proves that there are IgE antibodies present to that particular allergen present in the skin.
Skin testing is the most sensitive and least costly procedure to use in order to determine whether a patient has a reaction to a specific allergen. However this type of diagnostic testing should not be carried out on patients who suffer from widespread skin conditions like eczema as this may cause further reaction. Therefore in this case taking a blood sample to test for levels of IgE antibodies to a particular allergen in the blood would be a safer option. This diagnostic testing method is called RAST (radioallergosorbent test) and can be performed when eczema is present or if a patient has taken medications that interfere with skin testing.
Read more about it: http://www.allergymatters.co.uk/acatalog/Animal_Learning_Centre.html