If a red itchy rash has ever appeared after trying a new perfume or wearing latex gloves, it may have been caused by an allergic contact dermatitis--a fancy term for an allergic reaction on the skin caused by something in direct contact with the skin. Products or chemicals that cause allergic reactions are called contact allergens and are exactly what they sound like: an allergic reaction develops whenever it contacts the skin. It can be hard to determine which chemicals, products, or daily household items may be causing a rash. Even a small ingredient change in a detergent can trigger a reaction. To circumvent trial and error, and avoid getting more rashes, patch testing is helpful for determining common contact allergens.
In just one week, a tailored patch testing sequence can be developed, implemented, and reviewed. But, how does it work? What does a patch testing panel look like? In patch testing, small “stickers” with common allergen substances are uniformly placed on the back. After a few days, the patches are removed and specific markers are identified at each spot to determine if the test is positive or negative for an allergen. A positive result means the respective substance causes an allergic reaction and is an allergen, and a negative response means indicates the substance is does not.
To get started, patients interested in patch testing complete initial intake forms before the first visit with Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner Liz Schuringa, ARNP. Liz will review the procedure and any personal products (even ones used on occasion). At a separate visit, the patches will be applied and left on for 2 days. The patches are then removed at the third visit and the spots are observed after 3 days for any positive or negative result. This last visit consists of going over results and determining which products are allergens and which ones are not.
Most insurance companies cover patch testing, but may need confirmation to be sure. Insurance copays, are typically only required at the 1st and 4th visits. For scheduling, questions, or concerns please call the office at (425) 753-2918.