Patch Testing

In allergic contact dermatitis, typically harmless substances cause an immune system reaction when they come in contact with the skin. For those patients who suffer with chronic dermatitis (eczema), not responding to normal treatment options, we often recommend patch testing. We have extensive expertise in patch testing both adult and pediatric patients. Common symptoms in contact dermatitis may include:

  • Redness
  • Blistering
  • Fissures
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Burning sensation

These symptoms can last for weeks and can usually be treated at home through medications and topical creams. The best protection against contact dermatitis is to identify the specific triggers that cause reactions, so that patients can avoid these substances to prevent skin irritation. A patch test may help identify the trigger. It does not require the use of any needles or injections and is a simple test to perform.

Most dermatologists use the TRUE Test, which is a very good screening tool but is limited to testing 28 chemicals. At Myers Dermatology, we offer an expanded patch testing for what is called the North American Series of Allergens, which include up to 70 allergens known to cause skin rashes in North America. This more comprehensive testing can be very valuable information for those who suffer with allergic contact dermatitis.

The patch testing procedure is simple and painless. In order to identify specific triggers, we will tape several patches that contain various potential chemicals to the skin on the back. These chemicals are then left on the skin for up 48 hours and must remain dry during this time. Patients are advised to take only sponge baths and avoid excessive sweating. After 48 hours, the patch test is removed and an initial reading is taken to observe any reactions. An additional reading is taken after another 24­-48 hours. Patients can bathe in between these readings, but should avoid scrubbing the back. Once the final results of the test have been read, normal bathing can be resumed. Before undergoing patch testing, patients should stop using oral and topical corticosteroids in the area to be tested, avoid oral antihistamines, and should not expose the test area to the sun for at least three weeks.When reading the results, your doctor may classify each spot on a scale from negative (meaning no reaction) to extreme reaction (meaning positive results for substance). Once positive results have been determined, patients can take action to avoid their triggers and prevent contact dermatitis from reoccurring. At Myers Dermatology, our team of professionals will provide you with detailed, specific information on your individual triggers and how to prevent future contact. Call our office or contact us online to request a consultation with one of our providers for patch testing.

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