Whether you are at home, work, or out, you are constantly exposed to many different fragrances, active ingredients, and chemicals. A lot of outside factors that we come in surface contact with can be irritating for many people, and cause their skin to become irritated, and even cause swelling. Patch Testing is a specialized method of testing to identify allergic contact dermatitis, or hypersensitivities, in order to help patients better avoid contact with elements that are harmful to their skin.
What is Patch Testing?
Patch testing is a certain method of allergy testing that is different from prick testing. It does not involve needles, or pricking of the skin. It is designed to detect contact dermatitis due to contact with irritants that may be encountered at home, work, or leisure. It is performed through the use of small patches enclosed in chambers on the surface of skin over a period of about 2 to a week.
A dermatologist must first refer you for receiving this test. During your consultation, you can discuss your concerns and past experiences in order to determine the best plan for testing. When performing the patch test, long rectangular blocks are drawn on your back on the surface of your skin. The blocks contain smaller square chambers or discs that contain allergens that are selected as relevant for you. These may include certain fragrances, cosmetics, moisturizers, gloves, metals, or preservatives. The small chambers are then secured with hypoallergenic tape.
The secured allergens will then need to remain their for a couple of days until a possible reaction is indicated. This differs from food or urticarial allergies that involve pricking and can cause a reaction within 20 minutes.
After the first test is complete, the patches are then marked and a second round of testing is then performed. Once the second set of chambers are ready to be removed, management of your allergies can then be discussed in order to avoid contact and minimize your symptoms.
Some important information regarding patch testing includes:
- Avoid sunlight and UV ray exposure to the testing area while receiving your patch test
- Keep the skin dry in the area that is being tested
- Avoid sweating and activities that cause you to sweat
- Avoid movement that can cause the patches to shift or come off
- Do not apply lotion or oils prior to testing
If you are interested in learning more about patch testing, or you feel that you could benefit from receiving a patch test, reach out to us here at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic to learn more. Contact us today and schedule your consultation towards improved overall health!