If you experience contact dermatitis, a common skin irritation caused by allergic reaction, it can be challenging to determine exactly what is creating the reaction so that you can avoid that stimulus.
With allergy patch testing, a dermatologist is able to figure out why you’re getting a rash by systematically exposing your skin to potential allergens and then observing the results.
Patch testing for allergies is safe for most people of all ages. However, you may not be a candidate if you have a severe allergy that causes a life-threatening reaction or if you take medications that can interfere with this type of test. This may also include many antidepressants and some heartburn medications.
In addition, if your dermatitis affects so much of your skin that it is impossible to find a clear area to test, you may not be a candidate.
If you are not a candidate for patch testing for these reasons, the dermatologist may instead perform a blood test.
Skin testing is done on an outpatient basis, usually performed by a nurse with a doctor to analyze the results. With patch testing, allergens are applied to adhesive patches, which are then affixed to the skin for a predetermined amount of time.
A typical test includes 20 to 30 substances, which may include latex, medications, fragrances, preservatives, hair dyes, metals, and minerals. After about 48 hours of wearing the patches, you return to the dermatologist to have the results read.
During the time that you’re wearing the patches, you are prohibited from bathing, swimming, and any activities which may cause heavy sweating. These activities can negate the results of the test by causing the patches to loosen or fall off.
If irritated skin results from one or more specific patches, that often indicates an allergy or sensitivity to the corresponding substances. The doctor will typically advise that you avoid those stimuli and see if that causes the rashes to subside.
In some cases, medication may be required, especially for people with severe skin allergies.
The primary side effect of this procedure is the development of swollen, itchy red bumps known as wheals. These typically subside shortly after the testing is finished.
In some cases, a severe allergic reaction may result, which means it’s important to have allergy testing done in a medical office with emergency equipment available.
If you experience contact dermatitis that interferes with your quality of life, consider determining the cause with allergy patch testing. Contact Metro Dermatology today to schedule a consultation.