How to perform a nasal swab for your rapid antigen tests

How to perform a nasal swab for your rapid antigen tests

People are increasingly choosing to do their own fast COVID testing at home due to the ease and speed with which the results may be obtained. You may even request free testing kits directly from the government at this time.

It is essential that you swab your nose properly in order to reduce the likelihood of making a mistake and getting a false-negative result from the test. However, the directions for these rapid antigen tests that may be done at home might be difficult to understand and navigate.

When swabbing your nose for COVID-19 testing at home, the following are some important considerations you should bear in mind.

How to perform a nasal swab for your rapid antigen tests

How to Perform a Swab in the Nasal Cavity

Read the user handbook first, then check that the COVID rapid antigen tests are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that their authorization has not yet expired. Only then should you begin the test.

According to Christopher Scuderi, DO, a family physician at the University of Florida Health in Jacksonville, who was interviewed by Verywell, “proper technique is essential to ensuring a more accurate result,” and because of this, it is important to follow the instructions that are given to you with the rapid antigen tests. It’s possible that some of the most often taken exams include instructional videos you may watch online.

In order to properly conduct some rapid antigen tests, the swab must typically be placed into the nasal cavity. In general, this is the method that should be used to collect the specimen:

  • Place the collection tip of the swab about one-half to three-quarters of an inch inside the nostril. 
  • Rotate the swab approximately four to five times to collect the specimen from the nasal wall. 
  • Remove the swab from the nostril and repeat the procedure with the second nostril.

According to Gigi Gronvall, PhD, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, “the instructions for the various manufacturers are a little bit different from one another.” Be sure to follow the directions for your particular exam very carefully and precisely as they are suggested.

How to Perform a Swab in the Nasal Cavity

Which should you collect?

You need to collect a reliable sample if you want to acquire accurate findings. The purpose of rapid antigen tests is to pick up on particular proteins that are produced by the virus; hence, the objective is to swab the cells that dwell on the walls of your nasal passages. You can read Fact Sheet: The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-⁠19 Tests to Americans for Free by clicking here.

Gronvall said that the active infection should be the focus of your search. “In order for viruses to generate copies of themselves, they need to enter your cells.” They get in, replicate themselves an enormous number of times, break open the cell, and then proceed to infect more cells. When you do a swab test on your nose, you are trying to determine whether or not there is a virus that is multiplying there.

If rapid antigen tests just need a swab from the nasal passages, it is advisable not to take a specimen from anyplace else on the body, such as the throat, in order to avoid contaminating the results.

Which should you collect?

“The test is only as accurate as the quality of the sample you obtain,” Scuderi said, “so attentively follow the recommendations for a nasal swab as recommended by the manufacturer.” “The test is only as accurate as the quality of the sample you get.”

It is OK for there to be mucus on the collection tip of the swab even if the patient has a cold; nonetheless, the goal should still be the cells that line the nasal walls. Gronvall said that the test does not care whether you acquire “snot” on the cotton swab; nonetheless, it is important to determine whether or not the virus is actively multiplying in the cells of your nose. Before you start, it’s a good idea to blow your nose so that you don’t get any of the old proteins that are living in the mucus.

According to Scuderi, blood has been shown in several research to be connected with incorrect findings; hence, it is advisable to avoid this if at all feasible. You can read about Look out for these things in rapid antigen tests by visiting

What All of This Indicates About You

Be careful to brush the collecting tip of the swab against the walls of your nose while you are swabbing your nose for rapid antigen tests. This will help ensure accurate results. It is important to blow your nose before taking the sample so that you can receive an accurate reading.

What Should You Do If You Don’t Swab Correctly?

A nasal swab may be unpleasant, but it is essential that you do it properly in order for the test to provide you with reliable findings.

“The dangers of not completing rapid antigen tests properly is almost always going to result in a false negative,” Gronvall said. “The risks of not doing the test correctly might have serious consequences.” It’s possible that you’re contagious and putting others in danger as a result.

It is possible that your viral load may rise over the course of the following few days, which means that if you are concerned about the reliability of the result, you might consider doing the test again after some time has passed.

“A good rule of thumb is that if you are symptomatic and have had a negative rapid at-home test consider repeating it or scheduling a molecular PCR test to verify it is truly negative,” Scuderi said. “If you are symptomatic and have had some negative rapid antigen tests, consider repeating it or scheduling it to verify it is truly negative.” “This is particularly critical if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and you are now sick,” the author writes. “You should seek medical attention immediately.”