Get to the Source of Your Allergies

Get to the Source of Your Allergies

Many substances that come in contact with the skin can cause an immune system reaction called allergic contact dermatitis. This can be a long-term problem unless the cause is identified and avoided.

When the cause of a reaction is not clear, an Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery provider can perform a comprehensive patch test to help determine if your skin condition may be caused or aggravated by exposure to an allergen.

What are Some Common Allergens

What are Some Common Allergens?

There are over 200 known allergens, many of which are found frequently in our daily lives, including:

  • Plants - poison ivy, oak and sumac, as well as common plants such as chrysanthemums.
  • Toiletries – cosmetics, perfumes, shampoo, soaps, lotions, or other skin care products.
  • Medical items – topical anesthetics, antibiotic creams, eye drops, ear drops, or any other drops, bandages, medicated creams, lotions or ointments.
  • Rubber products – gloves, elastic, tires, handles, and hoses.
  • Nickel – an alloy in many types of metal in jewelry, studs (such as those in jeans), bra strap hardware, etc.

When an allergen contacts the skin, it results in an inflammatory cascade that can appear as itchy scaly red skin rashes. This can be a long-term problem unless the causative agent is identified and avoided.

What is Patch Testing?

Patch tests are a great tool for identifying responsible contact allergen(s), and also for excluding contact allergens. These tests use extracts of substances known to cause contact dermatitis in some people. Instead of introducing them to the skin with needles, patches with these substances are applied to the skin. Comprehensive patch testing has been demonstrated repeatedly to have a much higher probability of yielding a diagnosis of a specific allergy, compared to limited patch testing, thus leading to a much higher probability of a cure.

Eighty or more antigens are commonly tested with Extended Series Patch Testing, and you may be tested for more antigens depending on your specific situation and risk factors. Examples of additional test panels include: cosmetics, hair care, footwear, fragrances, sunscreens, and corticosteroids.

Why is it Used?

The goal of patch testing is to improve a patient’s skin condition by identifying contact allergens that may be causing it. Knowing what the offending allergens are, will help you know what to avoid and can help in the treatment of your condition. The underlying cause of some rashes may be difficult to identify with patch testing, however, it offers a good chance to identify what might be the cause of the rash.

Patch testing itself is NOT therapeutic, meaning that the process of patch testing will not improve your rash directly. It is the identification and future avoidance of offending allergens that offers the opportunity for improvement in your rash.

About the Procedure

Patch testing itself usually occurs over three visits. You will receive additional information, such as what medications to avoid, modifications you may need to make to your daily routine (including bathing), and what to expect once the results of your patch tests are received. You will receive counseling on ways to avoid ongoing exposure to your recently identified allergens, and you will be given a list of products which are safe for continued use.

For more information, schedule an appointment to talk with your Advanced Dermatology provider today.


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