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Precautions during patch testing


Please note that the chambers used for the test chemicals are housed in plastic plasters, similar to tegaderm. You may shower with them on. Please exercise caution to avoid dislodging them. The patches are usually applied on a Monday.

When the patches are removed on the Wednesday, there are often sticky marks left behind by the plasters. Please do not wash these marks off until your final patch test reading is taken on the Friday, as the marks are used to position the reading plate.

What is a patch test?

A patch test is a test designed to find out the cause of an allergy. It is used when an allergic contact dermatitis is suspected.

What is an allergic contact dermatitis?

When a substance comes into contact with the skin, it can either be ignored by the skin or the skin could react to it and become red, scaly and itchy. The latter reaction is called an allergic contact dermatitis. Such an allergic reaction is dependent on the immune system. Without immune cells arriving at the scene to 'attack" the perceived offending substance, an allergic reaction cannot occur. Examples of allergic contact dermatitis are reactions to nickel (jewellery, watches, paper clips etc) and fragrance (cosmetics, deodorants, soaps, washing powders, fabric softeners etc).

Not all contact dermatitis are allergic in nature. Some contact dermatitis may be irritant in nature. In this variety of contact dermatitis, the immune system does not get involved. An example is contact with petrol. It may irritate the skin and cause a contact dermatitis. This type of reaction is termed an irritant contact dermatitis.

When should a patch test be performed?

A patch test should be performed in:

 ny eczema has not cleared in a reasonable time (6 weeks)

all cases of hand dermatitis

all cases of facial dermatitis

eczema that is localised to one or few areas of the body

eczema of the feet (when shoe contact dermatitis is suspected)

PPD 3676

Hair dye allergy - paraphylamine diamine

Deodorant 9234

Deodorant allergy - Fragrance

Shoe contact 9227

Shoe contact dermatitis - leather dye - potassium dichromate

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