Allergological patch testing

When is patch testing required? 

An allergological patch test is used by the dermatologists and alergollogists on patients that suffer from dermatitis and on the ones in whose cases there is a suspicion that the cause of dermatitis might be an allergen. 

What substances am I being tested for?  

There are plenty of substances that can be used for an allergological patch test. A list like European Standard Battery comprises the allergens that frequently cause contact dermatitis in this geographic area. Statistically speaking, these are the most relevant cases. The necessity of further investigation is being analysed depending on the particularities shown by each patient. 

The allergens the patient is being tested for will be smeared across the area of a certain type of patch that will be applied either on the patient’s back or arm for the next 48 hours. The doctor will mark the area of the skin that will be covered by the patch tests with a particular kind of marker. 

When will my results be ready? 

The cutaneous reactions will be written down by the time the patches are removed, but the interpretation of the result will start 72 hours later. The doctor is going to establish if further checking is required. 

How are the test results interpreted? 

Depending on the level of the sensitivity caused by the substances that were applied on the area of the skin it will display either mild or aggressive irritations (dermatitis). The intensity of the reaction will be written down by the doctor on the final report. 

What side effects can occur post procedure? 

If sensitivity to a certain allergen is quite intense, the cutaneous reaction can exceed the contact area and can cause pustules that require medical attention, so that the patient avoids infections. 

Side effects of patch testing rarely include a general unspecific reaction on the entire area covered by them and it is called „angry back”. This reaction makes result interpretation impossible.  

What precautions should I take so that I can get this kind of test done? 

Before having a patch testing do not expose the skin area to the sun for 4 weeks prior to the procedure. 

During the test: 

  • Do not dampen the area. 
  • Limit the physical activity during this period of time and any other activity that could lead to excessive sweating, because the patches can detach themselves from the skin 
  • Avoid friction on this area 
  • Wear old clothes or dark coloured ones because the marker on the skin might come off and stain your clothing 
  • Ask for help from another person if you notice that the marker starts to come off, so that he or she will be able to draw new lines before it completely fades away 

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foto dr Calinescu

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