Patch testing is done to determine if your skin condition is caused by an allergic reaction to any specific substances. Common contact allergies are the well-known reactions to nickel or poison ivy. In these situations, an allergen contacts the skin and results in an inflammatory cascade resulting in an itchy scaly red rash. This can be a long-term problem unless the causative agent is identified and avoided. There are over 200 known allergens and many of these can be found frequently in our daily lives as well as in the medications we are using in an attempt to improve our skin conditions. Eighty or more antigens are commonly tested with Extended Series Patch Testing, and you may be tested to more antigens depending on your specific situation and risk factors. Examples of additional test panels include: cosmetics, hairdressing, footwear, fragrances, sunscreens, and corticosteroids.
The goal of Patch Testing is improve your skin condition by identifying contact allergens that may be causing your rash. Patch Testing itself is NOT therapeutic, meaning that the process of patch testing will not improve your rash directly. It is the resultant identification and future avoidance of offending allergens that offers the opportunity for improvement in your rash. Causes of rashes are NOT identified in ALL cases, yet Patch Testing offers a good chance at identifying the cause of your skin rash.
April Hofmann, PA-C directs our Patch Test Clinic. April has experience and special interest in Patch Testing and treating refractory eczematous conditions. If an allergic contact dermatitis is suspected and the offending agent is not readily identifiable, your physician or provider may refer you for Patch Testing. Please schedule a Patch Test Consultation with April to discuss your specific skin rash and potential allergens. A customized test panel will be tailored to your situation, and you will be tested for potential causative allergens.Patch Test Procedure:
Patch testing itself occurs over three visits. On Day 1 of patch testing, the patches are applied to your back in a specific arrangement. The test chambers will need to remain in place, clean and dry, for 48 hours. You may need to modify your daily activities (exercise, bathing) during this time. Do not take any medications that contain cortisone (prednisone, solumedrol) or anti-histamines (benadryl, atarax, hydroxyzine, claritin, allegra, zyrtec, etc). If you have recently been treated with any of these medications patch testing may need to be delayed so please notify April.
After 48 hours, you will return to the clinic (Day 3) for your second visit. The test chambers will be removed. Even though the chambers are removed, it is vital that your back remain clean and dry until after your final visit to the clinic for interpretation of test results.
On Day 5, you will return for your final visit to the Patch Test Clinic. A final reading of your testing will be completed, and you will be provided with a list of your identified contact allergens. Additionally, 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.