Contact dermatitis is one of the most common skin conditions affecting the US population. At The Bellevue Laser and Cosmetic Center we perform patch testing to help identify the type of dermatitis you may be experiencing (irritant vs contact) to help you eliminate your persistent rash.
Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) may occur on the first exposure and results as a direct toxic, or irritating effect on the skin. Examples of things that may cause ICD are soaps, solvents, excess water, friction, cement, and acidic foods. It is not a true “allergy”.
Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) involves an exposure to a chemical or allergen to which the body develops an immune response. On subsequent exposures the allergen is recognized by the body and in response a rash or dermatitis may develop in the area or beyond the area of exposure. If the offending allergen can be identified through patch testing then ACD is completely curable with allergen avoidance. Examples of ACD causes include metals (nickel, gold, cobalt), rubber (steering wheel, eyelash curler), topical antibiotics, and fragrances or preservatives in skincare products.
Allergic contact dermatitis is not life threatening and is not the same thing as an immediate hypersensitivity or IgE mediated reaction such as hives or anaphylaxis to bee stings, food, or medications. Testing for an IgE mediated allergy can be done with the help of an allergist.
At The Bellevue Laser and Cosmetic Center we would like to partner with you in identifying the CAUSE of your dermatitis to help you eliminate the rash, when possible. Patch testing is recommended when an allergic contact dermatitis is suspected. Some of these scenarios include: persistent dermatitis, hand or foot dermatitis, facial and eyelid dermatitis, lack of improvement with treatment, sudden dermatitis appearance, unusual distribution or pattern, perianal or perineal dermatitis, chronic otitis externa, and leg dermatitis. Even patients who have a documented cause for their dermatitis (seborrheic, atopic, stasis, or nummular), may experience worsening of their rash and failure to improve if they develop accompanying allergic contact dermatitis.
If you believe patch testing might be the next step for you then please call our office to schedule an evaluation. We will take your medical history, learn about previous treatments, evaluate at your rash, and let you know the next steps for patch testing . Because of the complexity of the procedure we do our testing on certain days of the week. We typically apply the patches on Wednesday and ask you to return on Friday for removal of the patches and an initial read. The final read will be done the following Monday.