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Diagnosing Skin Allergies with a Patch Test

Published on August 30, 2018

Contact dermatitis is a common medical condition that affects about 50 million Americans from all age groups. It is one of the primary reasons why people visit dermatologists. If you are experiencing contact dermatitis, it is important to find what is causing it in order to treat it properly.

What Is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction that occurs in the form of a rash or inflammation when the skin comes in contact with certain substances. Different substances trigger contact dermatitis in different people. For some people, contact dermatitis may be triggered by contact with detergents; for others, it may be triggered by exposure to certain cosmetic products. In all cases, it is marked by redness, skin rashes, and severe itching.

Is It Possible to Prevent or Treat Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis can be prevented and treated in most cases. Prevention and treatment can only take place by identifying the substance that is triggering the condition in the individual. Dermatologists use what is known as a patch test to determine the substance that is responsible for producing an allergic reaction.

What Is a Patch Test and How Is It Performed?

A patch test is a simple test that is conducted by dermatologists to find out which substances are likely causing allergic reactions in patients.

In most cases, the skin is divided into several areas called patches. There is a baseline of allergens that is commonly applied to all patients. These allergens are applied in predetermined concentrations that are enough to trigger an allergic reaction but not enough to cause a severe reaction.

The patches are applied and left for about 48 hours. After this period, the patches are removed and the skin reactions are tested. A second round of tests is conducted to confirm the results of the first test. Once conclusive results have been obtained, Dr. Kriegel will prescribe the appropriate course of treatment for your condition.

During patch testing, it is advisable to bring any products such as cosmetic items or cleaners that you suspect you are allergic to. Dr. Kriegel will include these substances in the patches just to confirm if you are in fact allergic to these substances.

How to Prepare for a Patch Test

Allergic reactions are triggered by the body’s immune response. In order to make sure that the immune response is not muted, patients are advised to refrain from direct exposure to UV light. If you happen to be taking any immunosuppressive medications, make sure that you inform Dr. Kriegel.

Once the patches have been applied, it is important to keep your skin dry and free of sweat. Dermatologists advise patients to stay away from hot areas and to refrain from activities that can cause patients to sweat a lot.

Until the testing is over, do not apply any oils or creams on or around the patches. Keep any twisting and turning to a minimum, as it can disrupt the patches.

Schedule Your Patch Testing Session

To schedule a patch test, contact the office of Dr. David Kriegel. Dr. Kriegel, a skilled dermatologic surgeon, will be happy to help.