Dermatitis is a big word that simply means “skin inflammation.” Early on dermatitis is characterized by red, dry, and itchy skin. But in more serious states, dermatitis can cause crusty scales, painful cracks, or blisters that ooze fluid.
Allergic contact dermatitis is one form of dermatitis. It’s basically a skin allergy, but it’s not the type of allergy you’re born with. This is a reaction to a certain substance or substances. At Matsuda Dermatology, we use patch testing to help our patients find out exactly what those substances are.
What is allergic contact dermatitis?
Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is a skin condition where the patient develops patches of eczema (also known as dermatitis) as a response to a specific substance. The patches are red, inflamed, and usually itchy. They often blister. Your body is reacting to an allergen, but it’s not the type of allergy you think of with, say, hayfever. In ACD you may have come in contact with a particular substance that signals your immune system to respond to defend the body.
What is patch testing?
At Matsuda we use patch testing to identify the substances causing the allergic reaction. Patch testing is a procedure where small amounts of various potential allergens are applied to the patient’s skin to see if they trigger an allergic reaction.
Why do I need patch testing?
Some people with ACD know exactly what substances they are allergic to and they can avoid coming in contact with them. Others have no idea what is behind their outbreaks, so they keep exposing themselves to the substances, such as when they are in cosmetics or clothing.
Patch testing allows the team at Matsuda and the patient to know what to avoid. Maybe it’s a chemical found in cosmetics, skin creams, rubber, leather, or metals. Although not guaranteed to find the culprit behind the reactions, patch testing at Matsuda is helpful for most patients who deal with ACD.
How do we do it?
Patch testing involves the following steps:
- Small amounts of various potential allergens will be applied/taped onto the skin and kept there for two days.
- The potential allergens applied need to remain in place for at least one day. If you are allergic to a particular allergen, this will produce a positive patch test reaction that will be checked between two to seven days after the initial patch application.
- Even after removal, the patch test will be read again two to three times up until one week passes.
What substances are tested for?
You will be tested for the most common substances that trigger ACD. Although you don’t think you may come in contact with some of these, they are commonly found in additives to clothes, leather, ointments, and other everyday items.
These are typical items tested for:
- Epoxy resin
- Balsam of Peru
- Paraben mix
- Formaldehyde resin
- Wool alcohols
- Rubber accelerators
Once Dr. Matsuda or Dr. Sheu find the substance/substances that are triggering your ACD, we’ll help you with treatment of your reactions and with tips on how to avoid the substances in the future.
If you’re having the kind of allergic reactions that point to allergic contact dermatitis, call the team at Matsuda, 808-949-7568 and let’s get you on a patch test.