When it is not known what substance is causing your contact dermatitis, a patch test can be carried out to identify what is causing the issue. During a patch test here at The London Cosmetic Clinic, tiny amounts of known allergens will be applied carefully, to your skin. These substances are attached, usually to your back or upper arms, using a type of non-allergenic tape. After 2 days, the patches will be removed and your skin is assessed, so we can determine what has been causing your contact dermatitis.
The chemicals included in the patch test kit are the offenders in approximately 85–90 per cent of contact allergic eczema and include chemicals present in metals ( e.g., nickel), rubber, leather, formaldehyde, lanolin, fragrance, toiletries, hair dyes, medicine, pharmaceutical items, food, drink, preservative, and other additives.
A negative test result is common: as many as 6 of every 10 people who have a patch test have negative results. Negative results, however, are still important because they will help our expert patch testers to treat your skin condition correctly so that it can begin to heal.
It is crucial that you avoid applying steroid/cortisone creams to your back or upper arms within one week prior to patch testing. All topical products, including Vaseline, lotions, creams, and ointments, should be avoided 24 hours before patches are applied.
Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra do not interfere with patch testing and therefore can be continued.
The patch testing procedure is simple and painless. It does not involve scratches or pricks to the skin. In order to identify specific triggers, your doctor will tape several patches that contain various potential chemicals to the skin on the back. These chemicals are then left on the skin for 48 hours and must remain dry during this time.
You will leave the patches on your skin for 48 hours.
If your skin reacts during this time, it may feel itchy or sore. Despite this, it is essential to keep the patches on your skin so that you can get accurate results. If you remove the patches, loosen them, or get them wet, you are likely to get inaccurate results. In order to prevent false test results, during the entire testing period you should not allow the sun or ultraviolet light to shine on it.
Showering, bathing, or swimming is NOT allowed. Too much sweat or water will lift up the patches and make them loose contact with the skin, which will make the test useless.
For the first 2 days when the patches are on your back, please do not shower. Gentle washing or sponge bath below the waist is permitted provided that the patches are kept dry.
Itching and burning are common side effects. Try not to scratch at the test sites, because itching is usually a sign of a positive reaction and scratching the affected site can alter the results. If you get a strong reaction with intense itching, burning, redness or pain, contact our clinic immediately.
The patches are typically placed on the back, left on for 2 days. Day 3: You will return to our clinic to have the patches removed and have the skin marked with a marker. Any reactions will be noted. The area of skin that was tested will then be evaluated again by our dermatologist 2 to 4 days after the patches are removed.
The best way to treat contact dermatitis is to avoid what’s causing it. If you can avoid the cause, the rash and symptoms will go away. Once you know what’s causing your contact dermatitis, learning what to avoid can be straightforward. Other times, avoiding what causes your contact dermatitis can be more difficult. For example, if you’re allergic to nickel, hundreds of things that touch your skin could cause a rash. Everyday objects that may contain nickel include cell phones, buttons and zippers on clothing, and jewelry.
Our dermatologist can help you develop a realistic plan for avoiding what causes your rash. Learning what to do may take time. Taking the time to learn what can cause your rash will help you feel more comfortable and develop fewer rashes.
Because so many things can irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction, it is not always possible to find the cause. To complicate matters, some people develop allergies to many different things. When this happens, treatment can help.
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