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Patch Testing for Allergies

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If your skin suddenly breaks out with a red, raised, itchy rash, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to something that touched your skin. You may have come in contact with this irritant many times before, but now your skin has developed a histamine response to it. It’s possible this contact happened hours or even days before the rash appeared. Left untreated, this rash can spread to other parts of the body.

This allergic reaction is called contact dermatitis. A variety of substances can cause this condition, including certain soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewellery, cleaning chemicals, and plants. It can be tricky to figure out on your own exactly what triggered your contact dermatitis.

A patch test conducted by a trained dermatologist can help identify the specific cause of the rash, so you can avoid this substance in the future. In about 70% of cases, a patch test performed at the University of Miami Health System’s Contact Dermatitis, Environmental & Occupational Dermatology Clinic can detect the relevant allergen(s).

Who is a Candidate?

Following the appearance of an unknown rash, you should see your primary care physician or dermatologist for a thorough exam. Once your condition is diagnosed as contact dermatitis, your doctor can refer you to our clinic for patch testing.

What to Expect

During a skin patch test, we tape sheets containing small amounts of common allergens to your skin, typically on your back. Then, we wait several days to see if a skin reaction develops from the patch. You must refrain from vigorous physical activity and from getting the allergy test area wet until you’ve completed the necessary series of clinic visits. You may be asked to visit the clinic up to three times during this process so our experts can monitor you for an allergic response.

When allergic reactions develop during testing, they appear as small, red, mildly itchy patches beneath the allergen sheets. This reveals which substances can trigger contact dermatitis or an allergy on your skin and the severity of this allergic reaction.

Once the skin allergies assessment is complete, you can return to your referring physician with a full report of our findings and instructions.

Treatment

To help soothe the rash and calm itching, your dermatologist may prescribe a steroid cream or ointment to apply directly to the skin affected by contact dermatitis. You will likely apply the steroid one or two times each day for two to four weeks.

In severe cases, your dermatologist may prescribe oral medication (such as corticosteroids, antihistamines, or antibiotics) to relieve bothersome symptoms or fight a bacterial infection.

Why Choose UHealth?

World-class leaders in skin care treatment. The dermatologists at the UHealth Contact Dermatitis, Environmental & Occupational Dermatology Clinic are trained to perform different types of patch test series to meet each patient’s needs. The clinic specializes in diagnosing and treating challenging cases of dermatitis and other allergic reactions of the skin. UHealth is recognized throughout South Florida and the world as a leader in caring for the skin's conditions and disorders.

Compassionate care in an academic medical center. Backed by one of the nation’s top universities, our team uses the latest technologies and research-driven expertise to provide superior, personalized treatments for dermatologic conditions. Our patients benefit from state-of-the-art technology and the latest medical advancements developed by our researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. You will receive the most accurate diagnosis and a detailed plan to keep your skin healthy.

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