People who experience contact dermatitis, a form of skin inflammation that causes red, itchy rashes often find it difficult to determine what kind of chemical or substance is triggering this reaction.
In the past, because of the wide variety of chemicals that are contained in everyday materials, it was hard to know the cause of a skin allergy. Avoiding certain chemicals, detergents, soaps, cosmetics, fabrics, or other materials was unreliable and difficult at best.
Now, there is a diagnostic test called Comprehensive Patch Testing that establishes the cause and severity of skin allergies. This test is used for a large number—in fact, nearly seventy—of the most common allergens that cause contact dermatitis.
Why Should You Get Comprehensive Patch Testing?
The people who would most benefit from patch testing include those who:
- Often suffer from recurring rashes.
- Can’t determine, from either their symptoms or history, what kind of allergy they have.
- Are believed to have an allergy to a specific chemical.
- Aren’t getting relief from prescription medication.
What Happens During the Test?
A comprehensive patch test is very involved and time consuming, and requires the patient to come for three appointments over a five day period. At your first appointment, you’ll be asked to bring all of the products that you’ve used on the affected areas of your skin, including soaps, creams, lotions, medications and cosmetics.
Then, we will place adhesive patches on your back that contain small amounts of potential allergens on them. These patches will remain on your back for two days while the allergens are in contact with your skin. You’ll return two days later to have the patches removed, and an initial reading will take place.
At your final visit (four days after your first visit), we will meet with you to discuss and explain your test results. You’ll get educational materials and will learn what allergens to avoid.
For test results to be valid, patients must:
- NOT shower during the first 48 hours, until your second visit.
- Avoid exercise that may make the patches fall off, as well as any kind of friction that could make them come loose.
- Avoid sunlight or UV light at the test area.
What Happens After the Test?
After your testing is completed, we will be able to determine what kind of skin allergies you have. We’ll give you a list of items that are known to carry that allergen, and then we’ll provide you with another list with alternate items that you can buy and safely use. If you carefully choose your alternative products, you should be able to greatly reduce your contact dermatitis problems.
Patch testing is one of the best tools that we have to determine what is causing your contact dermatitis.