Elgin area residents ask, “What is the purpose of the patch test for allergies?”
A patch test is something that we perform in our office to help diagnose contact dermatitis, or an allergic inflammation of the skin. The test involves the use of trace amounts of different chemicals known to cause contact dermatitis placed on the patient’s back. The purpose of a patch test is to find out which chemical produces a reaction.
Patients who have contact dermatitis will have a reaction on the skin when they are in contact with a particular allergen. For many patients, this reaction can be painful, itchy, and may even crack or bleed. Some of the most common causes of contact dermatitis are ingredients found in: makeup, shampoos, cleaning supplies, jewelry, and other common household products.
How the patch test is performed
Patch testing requires multiple visits to our office. The patches with the most common chemicals known to produce reactions are placed on your back. They are to be kept in place for 48 hours. Upon return to our office, the patches are removed and we’ll evaluate the skin. You will then come back to our office for a third visit in 1-2 days for a final reading.
Preparing for the patch test
Two weeks prior to the test, patients should avoid tanning. If you are using any oral or topical steroids, you should consult with your doctor about stopping them before the test. If you have excessive back hair, you will need to shave it prior to coming in.
On the day of testing, you will want to make sure your back is free of any lotions or ointments. While the patches are on your back, you should take care to avoid activities that can cause you to sweat excessively. Patients will need to clean themselves with a sponge bath instead of showering.
If your patch test indicates an allergy, we will discuss the substances you are allergic to and talk over treatment options as well as how to avoid the allergen. If you are in the Elgin area and believe that you may be allergic to something, call us today to find out if patch testing is right for you.