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Open Access Review

Skin prick test to foods in childhood atopic eczema: pros and cons

Carlo Caffarelli1, Arianna Dondi23, Carlotta Povesi Dascola1 and Giampaolo Ricci2*

Author Affiliations

1 Pediatric Unit, Azienda Ospedaliera- universitaria, Allergology and Immunology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Parma, Parma, Italy

2 Pediatric Unit, Department of Gynecological, Obstetric and Pediatric Sciences, S.Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

3 Dermatology Unit, Department of Specialistic, Diagnostic and Experimental Medicine, S.Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

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Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2013, 39:48  doi:10.1186/1824-7288-39-48

Published: 31 July 2013

Abstract

Skin prick tests are the first investigation in allergy diagnostics and their use is described in all the guidelines on atopic eczema. However, the clinical usefulness of skin prick tests is the subject of great debate. On the one hand, skin prick tests allow the identification both of individuals at risk for food allergy and of the allergen inducing the eczematous flare. On the other hand, when performed by a non-specific specialist, positive skin prick tests to foods may wrongly lead to prolonged elimination diets, which may induce nutritional deficiencies and perhaps loss of tolerance to the avoided foods. Furthermore, skin prick tests increase health costs. A consensus on this topic has not yet been reached. Considering the diversity of clinical stages in which it occurs, atopic eczema presentation should be the starting point to determine whether or not skin prick tests should be carried out.

Keywords:
Atopic dermatitis; Atopic eczema; Skin prick test; Food allergy