Patch Testing for Skin Allergies
What are skin allergies?
Skin allergies are common conditions where a particular allergen causes an immune response from the skin. The skin’s response can be an eczema flare, hives, or swelling. The particular allergen stimulates the immune response, which is referred to as a skin allergy.
What are common skin allergens?
Skin allergens are the causative agents that come in contact with the skin and result in the development of an immune response on the skin. There are numerous allergens that can cause this reaction; some common skin allergens are plants, colored dyes, soaps and detergents, latex, jewelry, preservatives (such as Thimerosal), fragrances, and topical antibiotics (such as bacitracin or neomycin sulfate.) Discovering which allergen is causing the skin’s reaction can be tricky. Patch testing is an excellent way of determining to which allergens your skin reacts.
What is patch testing?
Patch testing is a topical test that is applied to the skin to determine which common allergens your skin responds to with a rash. Patch testing is different than allergy testing. During allergy testing, antibodies are measured and airborne allergies can be testing for; patch testing requires that the specific contact allergens be applied to your skin. If you are allergic to these allergens, you will form a contact dermatitis (inflammation of the skin from contact with an allergen) at the site of the patch test.
How does patch testing work?
During patch testing, a panel of numerous chemicals will be applied tightly to your skin. These panels remain on your skin (usually on the back) for 48 hours. During this time, the panel should remain dry and in place. After 48 hours, the panel is removed and an initial reading is made. The final reading is not completed until 72-96 days after the panel was initially placed. During the final reading, your dermatologist will tell you which chemical compounds caused contact dermatitis on the skin, and which products contain these ingredients and should be avoided.
What do I do after patch testing?
After patch testing, your dermatologist can prescribe you an anti-inflammatory cream to decrease the immune response that the panels caused on the skin. You will be notified of the chemical compounds that your skin reacted to, and should avoid products containing these compounds in the future.
How do I schedule patch testing?
If you find that you are having reactions to certain things that you are coming in contact with, but are not sure which allergens are causing these reactions, you are an appropriate candidate for patch testing. The dermatologists and dermatology PA’s at Schweiger Dermatology (in midtown Manhattan and Union Square) can treat the skin’s immune response and refer you to a skin allergy specialist to undergo patch testing in New York.
Click here to schedule an appointment to discuss skin rashes and learn more about patch testing.