Patch Testing for Skin Allergies
Many people experience recurrent eczema flares or rashes that continue to flare. There is often not an obvious cause of these rashes, which can be very frustrating. In order to determine the cause of recurrent irritation on the skin, many of our patients choose to undergo patch testing.
Patch testing is a simple procedure, which is performed in our Roseville, Minnesota dermatology practice. The patch testing process occurs over a series of three visits, which are generally scheduled on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the same week. During the initial visit, a panel of allergens is applied directly t0 your back. The panel of allergens is removed during the second visit. On the third visit, we will evaluate your skin and determine which allergens may cause a rash on your skin. This process is useful, because we can determine exactly which ingredients cause your skin to react. During this final visit, we will review the contact allergens identified by the testing process and discuss the products that these ingredients are commonly found in.
Patch testing is covered by most insurance plans and can be a useful and worthwhile way to determine which ingredients you should avoid, in order to prevent recurrence of rashes caused by contact dermatitis. Common allergens include dyes, fragrances, and preservatives.
Frequently asked questions about patch testing:
1. Can I take a shower during the process?
From Monday afternoon until Wednesday when the patches are removed, your back should not get wet. You may take a tub or sponge bath, but please do not get the back wet. From Wednesday to Friday (the day of the reading of the allergies) you may shower if there is someone who can re-mark the area of the patches before and after the shower.
2. Should babies and children with eczema be patch tested?
According to a large study, less than 10% of babies (less than 2 years old) had a contact allergy as a significant cause of their eczema (atopic dermatitis). This changes as children get older: 2 studies of children’s patch testing (ages 6 to 18 years old) have shown that 78% of patients had a contact allergy as a cause/ contributor to their moderate- severe eczema. In children 6- 18 years old the most common allergens are: nickel, wool alcohols, formaldehyde resins, fragrance, and metals. Thus, if any child’s eczema is resistant to treatment, patch testing may be very helpful!
3. How many patches are applied?
At Tareen Dermatology, we utilize the extended North American Contact Dermatitis Series of 80 allergens.