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Keywords:

  • allergens;
  • epidemiology;
  • histamine;
  • reproducibility;
  • skin prick test

Reproducibility of the skin prick method of testing for allergy was studied in 20 subjects examined by four nurses. Hypodermic needles were used for pricking and the test panel included a histamine control, a diluent control, and nine allergens. The reproducibility of the method was best when the size of the weal reaction caused by an allergen was expressed as the geometric area of the weal. When the weal reaction was expressed as the ratio of the weal reaction caused by an allergen to that caused by histamine, the reproducibility of the method was decreased considerably. When the ratios were further classified into three class ratings, reproducibility was very low. The reduction in reproducibility was due to the low reproducibility of histamine reactions. According to these results, at least in epidemiological studies the weal reactions should be expressed as geometric areas. In clinical practice it might also be preferable to express prick test results as the diameters of the weals without adjusting them by histamine reactions.