An allergist is a medical doctor who has completed special training and has experience in figuring out what is causing allergies, how to treat them and how to prevent reactions. They want to work with you to help find relief from your problem.
Allergists usually treat allergies, asthma and other diseases of the immune system. Their immune expertise can include helping people with recurrent infection problems, autoimmune diseases, and immunodeficiency disorders. Sometimes they are called an immunologist.
Training/ Career path – How to Become An Allergist
In the United States, to become an allergy specialist/immunologist the doctor must complete a 3 year residency in internal medicine or pediatrics. They then go on to a 2 or 3 year fellowship in asthma, allergy and immunology. Other countries have certain requirements and training programs as well, but all of them come out to be about the same as the U.S. To be an “allergy doctor” you must have rigorous extra training and significant experience in handling asthma, allergy and immune disease patients. Usually there are tests to take and a board certification that you receive.
During fellowship training allergists learn about what specific kinds of allergies exist. They will master how and when to use allergy tests.
Dermatologists sometimes work with allergy patients when the reaction causes a rash. If that is your only symptom they should be able to solve your problem. You may find physicians who are certified in both dermatology and allergic care. If your problem becomes more than a rash, like you get respiratory symptoms, you may wish to see an allergist if your dermatologist is not double certified.
Pediatricians can decide to become allergists as well. They will likely only work with a pediatric population of patients.
People with doctoral degrees such as a PhD can also be called immunologists. They are working in the laboratory, not in the clinic with patients. Their work is also very important as it complements what clinicians do.
As a result of extensive study and training, an allergist is the best qualified clinical medical professional to manage your allergic disease. He will know the most up-to-date care and treatment. Remember that allergies are a long lasting problem. You need to work with someone who will provide comprehensive allergy care over the long term. An allergist will be able to reduce and manage your symptoms so that you can enjoy life.
You may find this resource from the ACAAI useful in finding a local allergist.