Our patch testing facility is a specialist unit designed to ascertain if there is an allergic contact cause for your skin disease. In addition to patch testing, we can offer a full spectrum of blood allergy testing to see if there is an allergic component driving your skin disease.
Our patch testing service is run by our team of highly qualified dermatology specialist nurses and physicians assistant with many years of cumulative experience in providing patch tests for skin patients. Our clinic is very happy to see any patient who has been referred by a consultant dermatologist (UK registered). If you have not seen a dermatologist and worried about contact allergy, then please book to see one of our consultants and we can facilitate your testing, investigation and treatment.
Remember, there is currently no test on the market other than a patch test that is able to identify a contact allergy. Blood tests are available for allergies, but these tend to be to identify inhaled, airborne or ingested allergens, not contact allergens.
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WHAT IS PATCH TESTING?
Patch testing is undertaken to try and identify if there are any substances which are causing or aggravating your rash by coming into contact with your skin
Patch testing involves having sticky patches stuck to your back (or sometimes to other areas of non-affected skin like arms or legs). Underneath the patches, small compartments hold common household chemicals pressed tightly against your skin. Examples of these include fragrances, colouring, preservatives found in creams, hair dye, metals et cetera. These are all common chemicals found in every day life and none is toxic.
Patch test can check for between 20 and 70 allergens at any one time.
The testing requires THREE visits to the clinic over a five or six day period:
- The patches are applied and the areas marked with ink
- 48 hours later the patches are removed, readings taken and the areas further re-marked with ink
- A further 48 to 72 hours later, final reading is undertaken
Any fees charged for patch tests are inclusive of all visit and patch testing, but will not include a follow-up visit with your consultant should this be necessary If any relevant allergens are identified that might be contributing to your skin condition, these will be discussed and information leaflets given to you. Hopefully avoidance of the allergens will result in a great improvement in your rash.
Sometimes patch tests can be negative, and a contact allergy excluded.
Your 1st patch test visit:
Make sure that your back is clean, free of hair and that no moisturisers have been applied.
The patches will be put onto your upper back, and possibly arms or thighs, in the form of small discs on hypoallergenic tape and the skin will be marked with ink. The patches stay in place for 48 hours. If one of the patches becomes loose, please tape it back down. Itching of the patch test sites is normal and you may find your back movements feel a little restricted. If you have an allergy to one or more of the substances, it will show up on your back even if the rash is elsewhere on your body. Once the patch tests have been applied you must keep your back dry of water and sweat until after the final appointment.
Your 2nd Patch Test Visit:
The patch tests will be removed from your back after 2 days and a reading will be made to assess whether you have had any early positive reactions. We will mark the back with ink and may leave a strip of tape on your back to help us identify any further reactions at your final appointment. It is important that you continue to avoid getting your back wet as the markings need to remain on your skin.
Your 3rd Patch Test Visit:
The final patch test reading takes place between 5 -7 days after their initial application. Your consultant will discuss the results with you and give you more information about any of the substances you have reacted to which may help you to avoid contact with such allergens in the future.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR PATCH TESTING
Keeping the patches dry is the most important aspect of accurate patch testing. Water or moisture of any description will often cause the allergens to dissolve out of their chambers and often make results difficult to interpret.
For the whole 4 to 5 day period whilst the patch tests and ink markings are on your skin, follow the below do’s and don’ts. Remember, these restrictions and recommendations need to cover the entire period from the first visit right through to the last, or the results may be invalidated.
- Get the patches or markings wet in the bath or shower
- Work up a sweat by exercising too hard
- Get the patches wet by swimming
- Wear pale or valuable clothing as the ink may stain it
- Expose yourself to sunlight
- Take immunosuppressive medications (If you already taking these, patch testing is not likely possible as the results will be suppressed).
- If the area becomes itchy, try not to scratch.
- Use the shower cautiously and attempt to sponge wash yourself whilst keeping the patches/markings out of the water flow.
- Shower on the morning before your patch test (as you won’t be able to have a proper shower for at least a further 96 hours).
- Enjoy a break from exercise or sport that causes you to sweat.
- If you notice a patch coming away, try to tape it down yourself.
- Contact the clinic if you have questions or concerns.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS OF PATCH TESTING?
If you have a positive allergy, the biggest side-effect people suffer with is itching. Sometimes one can also get an irritant reaction under the tape and this is also itchy.
- Occasionally reactions can become red, swollen or even blistered
- In strong positive allergies persistent reactions may occur which take a few weeks to disappear
- Eczema may flare up in the presence of positive patch test
- Inflammation can cause pigment change which may lighten or darken and sometimes lasts for a few months but is rarely permanent
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Patch testing is not advisable if you:
• are pregnant or breastfeeding
• have extensive eczema on your back
• have been exposed to the sun or have used a sun bed over the previous 2 weeks
• have recently applied an artificial tan
• are using moderate or high dose oral steroids
It is not possible to apply test patches if the skin on your back is scratched, sun burnt, has a rash or excessive hair growth. If you do have excessive hair on your back, please have the area shaved before your appointment.
Avoid using antihistamines for 48 hours before and during the patch testing period as this would reduce any visible reaction to the allergens.
WHY CHOOSE THE HARLEY STREET DERMATOLGY CLINIC?
Having the right dermatologist is important especially when you have a chronic skin condition that will require ongoing treatment. We want you to feel confident that we’re providing you with the best possible care. We also want you to feel as comfortable as possible with your dermatologist.
The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic specialises in conditions affecting the skin, hair and nails. Our goal is to provide all the care that you need when you’re experiencing these kinds of problems. We want to make it easy for you to access the best quality treatment and support in London.
The clinic is conveniently located in Central London, so it’s easy to visit us if you need to see a dermatologist. You will find yourself in a very comfortable and welcoming environment. We have created a relaxing space where you will receive the highest quality of care. We are regulated by the Care Quality Commission, are part of the British Association of Dermatologists and are top rated by patients of Doctify so you can be sure of safe and effective treatment with us.
The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic
35 Devonshire Place
The clinic can be accessed by public transport, on foot or by car. There is paid on street parking around the Harley Street district. The nearest tube stations are Regent’s Park and Baker Street, and Marylebone train station is a 15 minute walk away.
020 3322 7852
020 3322 7852
While appointments can be made available outside usual hours in special circumstances, our core hours are:
Monday: 8am - 6pm
Tuesday: 8am - 6pm
Wednesday: 8am - 6pm
Thursday: 8am - 6pm
Friday: 8am - 6pm
Saturday : 10am - 2pm
REQUEST A CALL BACK
Please fill in this form and one of our team will give you a call back to arrange a consultation with one of our expert dermatologists.