If you have been suffering from allergy symptoms like itching, red skin, prolonged skin dryness, and eczema, your allergist may recommend that you undergo a skin patch test in order to determine what it is that you're allergic to. This is different than a skin prick test, which involves pricking your skin with various allergens. In a patch test, various patches are applied to your skin and left in place for a while before the test results are read. Since this test is probably a bit unfamiliar to you, here is a closer look at what you can expect during and after the test.
You'll wear the patches home.
Usually, a patch test is ordered when your allergist assumes there is a delay between your exposure to an allergen and your reaction. As such, they won't just have you sit in the office for an hour or two with the patches on. They'll have you wear the patches home and come back the next day. Wearing the patch around can be a little uncomfortable, but most patients find that doing something to distract themselves keeps their mind off it. Plan on baking cookies, doing some gardening, or playing board games with your friends that day so you're not just sitting around itching.
You'll be tested for various allergens at once.
Rather than have you undergo test after test, your allergist will probably test you for the most common allergens all at the same time. The patch or patches that are applied to your skin are divided into grids. Your doctor will make a note of what each section of the grid contains. This way, when he or she peels off the patch and observes which squares are red and reactive, they'll know which allergens caused the reaction.
Your doctor will give you something to soothe the itching.
By the time you're done wearing the patches, you'll probably be pretty itchy, especially if you are allergic to some of the allergens the doctor has applied. Rest assured that your doctor will give you something to alleviate this itchiness ASAP. You'll probably be given an oral antihistamine, along with a topical agent to calm the discomfort and stop the reaction in its tracks.
Undergoing a skin patch test is not terribly difficult and it is a good way to find out what you're allergic to. If you have any additional questions or concerns, reach out to your allergist.
For more information, contact a medical center like Allergy Asthma Specialists.