Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) is an allergic inflammation of the skin from direct contact to certain substances and can affect people of any age. The immune system reacts to a substance that can cause a variety of symptoms:
- Severe itching
- Rash or redness of skin
- Flaking skin
Patch testing is a method used to determine if someone has ACD and helps identify the allergic contact triggers of recurrent eczematous rashes. It seeks to pinpoint exactly what causes these reactions by using a controlled manner to try and reproduce an allergic reaction to a patient. Small patches are applied to the back and/or upper arm containing small amounts of diluted test substances typically found in the home, workplace, or recreational environments, such as chemicals of metals, leather, fragrances, preservatives, etc.
After 48 hours, the patches are removed and the reactions are read at 72 hours. The typical process is three short appointments taking place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This provides enough time to examine if a skin reaction is present. The allergic potential of the exposed skin is scored on a scale from 0 (no reaction) to 3+ (indicating levels of redness or blistering).
Common reactions to contact allergens found through patch testing include a variety of substances:
- Sports equipment
- Dry clean products
- Cell Phones
Avoidance is the next step. Learn the names of substances that you react to, where they are found, how to avoid them, and how to protect your skin from contact. Read product labels and research online to find products without the contact allergens that trouble you.
At AAPRI, we use North American 80 standard patch tests, which covers many more products compared to most other allergy practices. Dr. Z is a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, which gives him access to the latest information and access to their online database called CAMP (Contact Allergen Management Program). CAMP works to identify products the patient can use that are free of their specific allergen, helping reduce the frustration of constantly reading labels.
We have seen dramatic changes in the quality of life for our patients since expanding our testing ability.
If you are interested in learning more about Patch Testing, contact the Asthma & Allergy Physicians of Rhode Island clinics directly for more information.