Skin Patch Testing for Allergies
Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) is an allergic inflammation of the skin. It is caused by your immune system reacting to your skin touching a certain substance. This causes a variety of uncomfortable symptoms:
- Severe itching
- Rash or redness of skin
- Flaking skin
What is patch testing?
Patch testing is used to determine if you have ACD and what your allergic contact triggers are.
How does patch testing work?
Small patches are applied to your back and/or upper arm. These patches contain small amounts of diluted test substances typically found out in the world— metals, leather, fragrances, preservatives, etc.
What kind of patch testing does AAPRI do?
At AAPRI, we use North American 80 standard patch tests. This covers many more products than most other allergy practices to yield more comprehensive results.
What can I expect from patch testing?
The typical process consists of three brief appointments. At the initial appointment, we apply the patches. After 48 hours, the patches are removed from your skin. After 72 hours, we read the reactions and gather your results. We examine the skin to see if a reaction is present and score it on a scale of 0 (no reaction) to 3+ (indicating levels of redness or blistering).
There is no special preparation necessary for patch testing, although you may want to take a shower beforehand. Please note that when you are undergoing patch testing, you MUST NOT ALLOW THE AREA OF TESTING TO GET WET. Showers, baths, swimming, or even heavy sweating can affect the results of the test, and our goal is to get the most accurate result possible.
What are some possible causes of skin allergies?
Common reactions to contact allergens found through patch testing include a variety of substances:
- Sports equipment
- Dry cleaning products
- Cell phones
Now that you know what you’re allergic to, avoidance is the next step. Learn the names of substances that you react to, where they are found, and how to protect your skin from contact. Read product labels and research online to find products without the contact allergens that trouble you.
Dr. Z is a member of the prestigious American Contact Dermatitis Society, which keeps him up to date on the latest information and research. It also gives him access to CAMP (Contact Allergen Management Program). CAMP is a huge professional database for dermatologists that works to identify safe products for you, the patient, given your specific allergies. When you come into the office after your testing, Dr. Z uses this valuable resource to pass this information on to you. This includes additional information about your allergy and a list of products that are safe for you to use.
To prepare for your patch test, please read these instructions: Allergy Skin Testing Information (PDF) and Patch Test Instructions (PDF).
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