Allergy testing in a community pharmacy is another nice-to-have service that benefits both health care professionals and patients alike.
It could be offered as a private service or one that could potentially be commissioned by the local CCG.
Being referred by your GP on the NHS for allergy testing is often a challenge due to funding. Offering it at your community pharmacy would therefore be an easy access and popular service to your patients.
Whether a patient has typical allergic, or ongoing idiopathic, symptoms then this is a good way of confirming whether they are an allergy sufferer.
Basic allergy testing can be performed quickly and easily using the finger-prick method and measures the total level of IgE in the body which can indicate if they are an allergy sufferer.
If the IgE level is raised, then patients may wish to have further allergy blood tests to see whether specific allergens can be identified.
These would be tested from a venous sample that could be taken at the community pharmacy and specific allergens testing requested. For a relatively larger cost to the patient, a test for a wide variety of allergens could also be offered, which might include, for e.g. foods; grasses; trees; latex; house dust mites; molds and cats/dogs/horses.
The community pharmacy is also where health care professionals could signpost those patients who request a test when it is not necessarily indicated.
Following their results, your patients can be further supported by the community pharmacist. Treatments can be advised and provided to alleviate their symptoms as well as general advice on how patients can manage their allergies at home. This would include advising the patient about, for e.g.:
- Being careful about what they eat in relation to any food allergies
- Regularly bathing and keeping pets outside as much as possible for specific animal allergies
- Keeping their home dry and well-ventilated, plus dealing with any damp or condensation issues if any mould allergies
- Staying indoors and avoiding grassy areas when the pollen count is high as well as advising on antihistamines for hay-fever allergies
- Using allergy-proof duvets and pillows and fitting wooden floors rather than carpets for house dust mite allergies
NB. This would not be a substitute for a patient consulting their GP, particularly if they have significant symptoms, but the community pharmacist would be able to disclose the allergy results and advise GP follow-up when necessary.
Written by Jane Charman, Friday 18th October 2019
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