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Houston Dermatology

​Allergy Patch Testing

Specialized testing evaluates more than 80 contact allergens right in the office.

Kelsey-Seybold Clinic is proud to be one of the few facilities in Houston to offer comprehensive patch testing through  John Griffin, M.D., F.A.A.D. at our Tanglewood Clinic. Patch testing is a dermatological procedure that determines whether a patient's skin rash is caused or aggravated by an allergy to substances that come into contact with the skin.

Because the test requires additional time, effort, and expertise to perform, Dr. Griffin is among just a few dermatologists in the Houston area to offer comprehensive patch testing. But Kelsey-Seybold Clinic and Dr. Griffin realized that there was a significant need for it.

"It was clear that we were not able to identify some important allergens with the widely available, but more limited, screening test," he says. "However, when we referred patients out for advanced testing, they would have to wait several months for an appointment. So now we have a test that evaluates more than 80 contact allergens right in our office. We saw a need and worked hard to meet this need."

The Procedure
A wide variety of potential dermatitis-causing allergens are applied to adhesive patches, which are placed on the patient's back or arm. Some common trigger substances are dyes, fragrances, metals, and preservatives in personal care products such as soap, shampoo, or conditioner.

Patches are worn for three days (72 hours) and are removed when the patient returns to the doctor at that time and again two days later. The skin is then evaluated. If the site under or around the patch is irritated, it may indicate a contact allergy. Additional follow-up readings may be necessary.

Reasons for Patch Testing
If you suffer from dermatitis, needle (or skin prick) testing is not likely to determine whether allergens are causing the condition. Patch testing, however, can much more accurately detect whether or not a contact allergy is to blame, particularly in cases where the allergy takes several days to cause a reaction.

Anyone who hasn't been able to identify the cause of a rash or inflammation of the skin may have reason to request patch testing from a dermatologist.   

Who Is a Candidate for Patch Testing?
Patients who are most likely the best candidates for patch testing are those who have had recurrent rashes or other reactions on their skin to substances with which they regularly come into contact with (also known as contact dermatitis).

Some of the patients we see have contact dermatitis from something they use in their occupation. Others may have a reaction to a laundry detergent, makeup, soap or other household item. We also see patients who get recurrent sores in their mouths, which may be caused by allergies to dental appliances.

Patients of any age can undergo patch testing safely. Kelsey-Seybold accepts more than 50 health insurance policies, and while most cover patch testing, check with your insurer about your particular coverage.

If you have unexplained dermatitis or mouth sores and would like more information on patch testing at Kelsey-Seybold's Tanglewood Clinic, please c​ontact us.

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