Allergy Desensitization

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan.


Allergy desensitization, allergen immunotherapy (AIT), or hypo-sensitization was first introduced by Leonard Noon in 1911, who proposed that people with hay fever were sensitive to grass pollen toxins. Desensitization is "a method, to develop a temporary state of tolerance to an agent responsible for an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction." It is a disease-modifying treatment and lasts longer even after stopping the treatment, which then provides prophylactic effects.

Immunotherapy is the treatment of allergic disease by promoting or suppressing immunity. Allergen immunotherapy is a group of therapies that seek to promote immune tolerance to allergens. Hyposensitization is a term formerly used as synonymous with allergen immunotherapy because complete desensitization is rare with immunotherapy.

Types of Allergic or Hypersensitivity Disorders

Respiratory tract disorders include allergic rhinitis, allergic aspergillus rhinosinusitis, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), or allergic asthma. Ocular disorders include allergic conjunctivitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, and atopic keratoconjunctivitis. Skin and mucous membranes disorders include allergic contact urticaria, oral allergy syndrome, acute urticaria due to IgE-mediated allergy, and atopic eczema. Drug hypersensitivity includes exanthematous drug eruption, drug-induced urticaria, angioedema and anaphylaxis, and Samter's syndrome. Food hypersensitivity includes food-induced urticaria, angioedema anaphylaxis, IgE-mediated food-induced gastrointestinal hypersensitivity, and oral allergy syndrome. Insect hypersensitivity or allergies include anaphylaxis, cutaneous reactions or local reaction to Hymenoptera venom.

Publication types

  • Review