Patch testing is a diagnostic procedure performed at a dermatology clinic to identify allergens or irritants that may be causing allergic contact dermatitis or other skin reactions. Allergic contact dermatitis is a type of skin inflammation that occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance to which the individual is hypersensitive or allergic.
Here's how patch testing works:
- Selection of Allergens: The provider selects a panel of common allergens, including substances like metals (e.g., nickel), fragrances, preservatives, chemicals, and other potential culprits. The selection is often tailored to the patient's specific circumstances and suspected triggers.
- Application: Small amounts of these allergens are placed on patches made of a special hypoallergenic tape or adhesive. These patches are then affixed to the patient's back, usually in a grid pattern.
- Skin Exposure: The patches remain on the patient's back for a specific period, typically around 48 hours. During this time, the patient should avoid activities that might cause sweating or dislodgment of the patches.
- Removal and Evaluation: After the prescribed period, the patches are removed by a healthcare professional. The skin is examined for any signs of a reaction, such as redness, itching, swelling, or blistering, at the sites where the allergen patches were applied.
- Interpretation: The dermatologist or allergist interprets the results based on the presence and severity of skin reactions to the various allergens. A positive reaction indicates sensitivity or allergy to a particular substance.
- Customized Allergen Profile: Once the allergens causing the allergic contact dermatitis are identified, a customized allergen profile is established for the patient. This information is crucial for avoiding exposure to these substances in the future.
Patch testing is a valuable tool for identifying the specific allergens responsible for skin reactions, allowing patients to make informed lifestyle changes to minimize exposure to those allergens and manage their condition effectively. It can be particularly helpful for individuals with chronic or recurring skin problems that don't respond to typical treatments.
Contact us to learn more about allergy testing or schedule an appointment online.