One of the oldest techniques for discovering immediate type allergy (also known as atopy or Type 1 allergy) is the skin test. This used to be performed as a scratch test but now a more sensitive skin prick test is applied. This is virtually a painless procedure and the staff refer to this as the "tickle test" when talking to children. It is unwise to endeavour to prepare children for this skin prick test as this tends to heighten apprehension rather than relieve fear. It is the routine practice in my clinic always to lie the patient down for this simple procedure; the natural degree of apprehension associated with an unknown procedure can precipitate syncope (fainting) in the most unlikely individuals, particularly if a meal has been missed, the patient is tired or has been rushing to get to the appointment. Skin prick tests are of most value in relation to common inhalants although this test for foods may be of value.

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