- Mild Swelling
Patch testing is an in-office procedure that can be performed by a board certified dermatologist to diagnose causes of contact dermatitis. Patch testing is not necessarily a type of allergy test, since contact dermatitis is simply a reaction to certain irritants, not allergens. Dr. Ness can perform patch testing to help guide your treatment options for immunologic reactions.
Contact dermatitis is sometimes called an allergic contact rash, although it’s not necessarily caused by allergens. More often, it’s caused by exposure to certain chemicals that cause a reaction on the exposed skin where your immune system reacts with hives or itchiness. Often, the help of your dermatologist is needed to determine the type of contact dermatitis and its cause, as well as some other factors. To get a good idea of this information, a patch test can be performed.
There are a wide variety of things that can cause contact dermatitis for any one person. Some of the most common include poison ivy, perfumes, nickel, household cleaning chemicals, latex, or certain cosmetics. Additionally, contact dermatitis can occur all over the body, and each area can have different causes— usually, chemicals that commonly come into contact with those areas. For instance, contact dermatitis can occur on the neck because of jewelry or on the scalp because of hair dyes. This can often help narrow down possible causes.
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A patch test is usually performed on the back so there’s sufficient room for each patch. These are adhesive sheets with little dots containing a specific chemical that are applied to the skin. It should remain there for around 48 hours and should not get wet from things like bathing or sweating. After 48 hours, the patches will be removed. Then, each area is marked with a special marker so we can keep track of any reactions. Then, you’ll return home before coming back after a few days for a final evaluation.
After your patch test is complete, Dr. Ness will evaluate the test area for any signs that a reaction to a specific chemical occurred. These signs usually include redness, swelling, bumps, or blisters. However, it’s important for a dermatologist to perform this test since they can adjust for factors like memory responses (where the skin simply remembers the chemical as something it doesn’t like because of a previous reaction) or any false results. Dr. Ness can also prescribe medications to help reduce any reactions you might experience.
Patch testing can be a valuable way to determine what’s causing reactions on your skin and to what. To begin getting treatment and testing for contact dermatitis, contact our Fargo office by calling or filling out our online form.