Allergy Testing for Toddler: Spear’s Experience
I’m sharing our personal experience with allergy testing for our toddler son. Why we decided to have our toddler tested for allergies, what to expect during the test process, and going over the results of his tests!
Why We Pursued Allergy Testing for our Toddler
When Spear was around three months old he seemed to have pretty constant drainage and I remember telling Zach that I thought he had allergies.
Every single one of Spear’s well visits I’ve mentioned his frequent runny noses. I’d also often ask about getting him allergy tested.
I was continually told to wait it out. That he was too young for testing.
We tried countless allergy medicines that are safe for young ages. None of them seemed to make any sort of big impact on helping him stay dried up.
When Spear started speech therapy his speech therapist was pretty convinced that he had fluid in his ears. The way he spoke sounded a bit like he was “underwater” which is common for kids with a lot of drainage.
She also agreed with me that every time she came to work with him he seemed to have a runny nose and congestion.
No matter the season, no matter the weather, my kid is just congested!
I pursued an appointment at a local ear nose and throat doctor to have his hearing checked and his fluid levels looked into in association with his delayed speech.
The doctor, however, said he passed all the tests – no fluid in his ears. No symptoms to link any sort of allergy or congestion related to his speech delay.
Again, we were told by this doctor to try different meds and wait and see if at some point he needed further allergy testing.
We live in South Georgia where allergy season is basically year-round. I myself didn’t have allergy issues until a few years ago and now I feel like I’m always battling some sort of sinus crud! It seems like it’s just par for the course of living where we do.
Not only did Spear have a pretty steady runny nose, he also randomly gets rashes from time to time.
The first time he ate eggs he had a rash. If he goes outside for a long period of time he seems to get a rash. Sometimes he’ll just randomly have a rash.
Being my fourth kid, I don’t overly stress the rashes. They pop up, they go away. It could be viral. It could be a slight reaction to something. They are never bothersome for him, they don’t seem to itch or spread so I don’t stress them.
He also on occasion gets rashes in the folds of his skin. Inside his elbow, inside his knees. I’ve asked at his pediatrician visits and they’ve said he has eczema so I’ve treated the spots when they pop up – and I’ve noticed over time they tend to appear more during times when he’s warm or outside.
When coronavirus pandemic started to hit the US in March, we started to be outside more and more.
I noticed Spear had a rash pop-up. Of course we were shelter in place at home and I didn’t want to call the doctor during such a crazy time.
I waited it out. Assumed it’d go away on it’s own like his little pop up rashes tend to do. But it didn’t. And instead, it got worse. It was very itchy and bothersome for him so I finally made the call to take him into the pediatrician.
His doctor said it was hard to know what caused the rash but that whatever it was also caused an eczema flair up which was what was making him miserable. Bless his heart!
His pediatrician said even though he’s still young (almost 2 ½ years old) for allergy testing that they’d go ahead and send a referral for a local allergist to get it done.
We did five prescriptions: one steroid ointment for his entire body, one ointment to put directly on the rash spots, an anti-itch oral medicine as needed, a steroid for 10 days, and a new-to-us allergy medicine (singular).
The combo of all of those efforts worked almost instantly! He looked SO MUCH BETTER the very next day!
However, as soon as the oral steroid ended, his rash instantly started coming back. Rather than wait it out I rushed him right back to the doctor.
We did a stronger steroid cream and a regimen to help keep the rash at bay until coronavirus cleared up enough to allow our local allergist to open and get us in for an appointment.
The pediatrician was awesome in getting us a good solid routine down and said that her hunch was that something in the environment is causing Spear’s eczema to flair up. She felt confident it was an environmental reaction.
I called the allergist every week. For weeks. And weeks. FINALLY they allowed for me to do a video conference with the allergy doctor.
This doctor didn’t see my child at all. She only spoke to me via video and told me based on what I told her that she was confident Spear had a food allergy.
The doctor ordered an allergy test and said the panel would cover food options to see what he’s allergic to.
The whole situation just didn’t sit well with me. This doctor who hadn’t even seen my child was so sure it was a food allergy. She dismissed my thoughts on what my “mama hunch” said was going on (environmental allergies).
I had SEVERAL people reach out to me regarding his allergy testing and I decided not to follow through with the original doctor and instead called another local allergist in town and was SUPER impressed with them right off the bat.
They were able to get us in quickly for testing and explained that the reason why they don’t tend to do allergy testing on infants or toddlers is that their backs aren’t large enough for the panels. It’s also why they aren’t able to be extremely specific with the tests – there just isn’t enough space to work with on the tiny back area of a small child.
What to Expect with Allergy Testing for Toddler
I was very surprised at how simple the entire allergy testing process was.
We were welcome into our appointment and taken back to a room to go over Spear’s history, sort of discuss our reasons for being there, any concerns we had and to go over what the allergy test process would be like.
I thought it allergy tests involved needles and lots of pricks on my child. NOPE. Not the case AT ALL.
Instead it is a plastic panel of little nubs. Not a major prick at all. No needle. No shots.
The nurse let me feel the panel against my own skin and it honestly felt good! Kinda like a soft back scratch feeling.
I wasn’t worried at ALL at that point! I knew it’d be a breeze!
She had to mark Spear’s back with a marker with letters to match up with the panels that would go in each section. The writing tickled him and he was full of giggles.
The allergy test was an infant skin test due to his age and size. It consisted of 48 tests. Many were not testing for individual items but instead a group of possible allergies together. (Again, due to space to work with). So we may not know exactly which type of fish or type of tree or type of insect he is allergic to but we’d at least know if it’s A fish or A tree or AN insect allergy.
We had to lay him down for the panels to be pressed into his back. Like any busy toddler Spear does NOT like being held down but it was SO FAST.
The nurse was awesome at getting it done super quick.
She explained that the first panel had histamine as one of the markers – this was to be able to compare the other spots to. Everyone will have a reaction to histamine so that spot would turn more red and be inflamed and show a reaction. The doctor could then compare all the other spots on Spear’s back to the histamine marker to judge if he was having any reactions to other things or not.
She put 6 panels on his back, each with 8 markers giving 48 total.
It did not cause him any pain at ALL to have the panels pressed against his back and it was literally a one second per panel thing. She pressed it against his back, removed it, and then moved onto the next one.
You can see the spots of the panels:
We had to wait 15 minutes to allow him to have reactions to the potential allergens.
I brought a TON of stuff with us for the appointment but hero Daddy had the most genius plan of all and downloaded two tractor apps on Tess’s iPad.
Spear has NEVER used an iPad before and the tractor apps were ALL we needed! He was totally content for 15 min no problem at all!
The nurse came in with a sucker for him and he was just as content as can be. Which is saying a TON for Spear. I mean he’s usually WILD all the TIME. Not gonna lie…this tractor app thing may have to make an appearance more regularly 😉
Since everyone has a reaction to histamine the spot where that was turned red and inflamed pretty quickly.
We kept checking other spots and noticed a couple that seemed to swell up a bit but Spear never complained of any annoyance or pain or itching.
You can see the spot where he was itching the histamine area and how the rest of the spots all look pretty much the same as just a red dot.
Toddler Allergy Test Results
The doctor came in at about 15-20 min after Spear’s skin prick test. It was our first time meeting him but right away we were impressed with his bedside manner and ease of communicating the results.
He said that Spear had no allergic reaction to the skin testing.
The only real reaction he had was to the histamine!
He said that skin testing results are given in a range from 0-4. Zero being no reaction at all, 4 being highly allergic to that item.
Spear’s came back a 0 across the board except for a score of 1 for tomatoes as well as “tree mix 1.”
Again, with the panel testing, there isn’t enough space on a child’s back (technically Spear received the infant panel due to his age and size) to test for each individual tree and planet or each individual food or animal. I believe we could purse allergy blood tests if we really wanted to know for sure the specific tree he’s having the mild reaction to, but with such mild allergy symptoms, we feel pretty confident we can solve the concerns with a treatment plan.
Spear’s doctor said he’s not concerned at all with the level 1 reaction to tomatoes.
With the other symptoms Spear has exhibited it seems that the smaller tree mix allergy is bothersome for him. Welcome to South Georgia where everyone struggles with seasonal allergies!
The doctor told us that Spear basically just has rough seasonal allergies as well as eczema. I was very impressed with the doctor we saw and the health care treatment we were given – he wasn’t pushy and gave us lots of advice for ways to save money which I appreciated!
For the seasonal allergies we are going to do Singular every night as well as Zyrtec during the tougher months.
I don’t LOVE having to give my kid medicine on such a regular basis and I’m sure once he gets older we’ll look more into allergy shots or other options to treat his seasonal allergy symptoms (heck I’m in the same boat kid – it’s miserable!).
While seasonal allergies aren’t fun…I’m SUPER thankful that Spear does NOT have any food allergies (wish I could tell that first doctor “I told you so!”).
We spent a lot of money on the allergy testing for our toddler and it can feel frustrating to basically be SO SURE your kid has an allergy to get the test and find out they aren’t really allergic to anything, but I’m still glad we had it done.
I love knowing we’ve ruled out any potential concerns and am glad we got one of the panel allergy skin tests rather than going through a food elimination diet to try to see if he had a food allergy. A food challenge test with so many children at home doesn’t sound too fun to me!
Eczema with a Toddler
Eczema is a new world for me as a parent (“old mom” still getting hit with something new!). It’s hard because it’s not a simple solution. There isn’t a rule book that says “do this and it will work.”
Each child is different and they will each respond differently to the environment with their eczema.
So far we’re still in the learning phase of this. The doctor was awesome in giving us a TON of free samples to try out for body wash and lotions and I’ve had LOTS of advice from my pals on the internet who have faced eczema with their children.
It’s a LOT to absorb and learn and it’s a tough balance because I want to make sure what we do IS helping and not just be making all these changes that we may not really need to make, ya know?
I’ve noticed with Spear his eczema is heavily influenced by the weather. Being outside and getting hot makes him flair up. So helping him stay cool is important.
We’ve learned that having his skin damp before applying any moisturizer helps. We also have him sleep in light cotton long sleeve pjs and slather moisturizer on before nap and nighttime sleep to help it soak in while he’s sleeping.
We’re keeping bath time shorter and putting on moisturizer right when he gets out (same with the pool).
I also switched our laundry detergent to free and clear and we’re limiting using any sort of steroid creams to only when he has a bad “hot spot” as I’ve heard from many people that using too much steroid cream overtime will cause his skin to actually wear down and be more prone to issues.
We take great care to know all we can to help our son’s health be the best it can be and to make sure he’s comfortable and minimize flair-ups as much as possible!
So far he’s been doing very well with the free samples we’ve been given and I haven’t hardcore committed to anything yet as far as his eczema is concerned and what products we’ll be using on a regular basis.
Eczema is an offense game – you want to PREVENT it so it’s tricky to navigate as we don’t really know what works best, we will only know what DOESN’T work when he gets a flair up.
It is also common for young kids to have eczema and grow out of it as they get older – so that’s our hope too. Hopefully we can find what works best at preventing issues for Spear and then he’ll grow out of it and it won’t be a long term issue he has to battle.
I planned for this post to be sort of the “diagnosis” post with that information and will do a post down the line when we DO have a good solid system in place and I can better give recommendations for helping kids with eczema, for now though if you’ve dealt with eczema for your child I’d love any advice or wisdom you can offer! Please comment in this post so others can see the comments and have that insight as well 🙂
I am SO thankful we pushed for allergy testing for our child. I know we didn’t really get any hardcore results FROM the test – but it helped to rule out a lot of concerns and for that I’m thankful!
It was a truly painless and easy procedure and Spear behaved SO well for it all!
The concept of allergy testing for toddler seems SO much worse than it actually is and I’m thankful it was such a smooth situation – without any needles for Mommy to be stressing over 😉
I’m thankful we took these steps and have a better understand as to the cause of Spear’s rashes and I’m optimistic that we can get the seasonal allergies under control and find a new normal routine to help prevent the eczema flair ups!