The skin prick test

J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2018 Jan-Feb;32(1 Suppl. 1):19-24.


The skin prick test (SPT) is the most common test for the diagnosis of allergy. SPT is performed by pricking the skin, usually in the volar surface of the forearm, with a lancet through a drop of an allergen extract and is usually the first choice test in the diagnostic workup for allergic diseases because of its reliability, safety, convenience and low cost. SPT is minimally invasive and has the advantage of testing multiple allergens in 15 to 20 min. In children, SPT is far less disturbing than venipuncture and is used to obtain a sample of serum to measure specific IgE through in vitro tests. There is a good correlation (about 85-95%) between SPT and in vitro tests. Globally, SPT is an excellent diagnostic tool, with a positive predictive value ranging from 95-100%. SPTs can identify sensitivity to inhalants, foods, some drugs, occupational allergens, hymenoptera venom and latex. However, the relevance of such sensitivity to allergens should always be carefully interpreted in the light of the clinical history, because sensitization and clinical allergy may not coincide. In regards to safety, though the reports of systemic reactions, and particularly anaphylaxis, are very rare, in vitro IgE tests should be preferred if previous severe reactions emerge from the patient’s clinical history.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Skin Tests*


  • Allergens