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Discussing Negative Results

Your negative patch test results suggest that you are not allergic to the most common contact allergens and allergen mixes. A negative test result is common: as many as 6 of every 10 people who have a patch test have negative results. Negative results, however, are still important because they will help our expert patch testers to treat your skin condition correctly so that it can begin to heal.

Could you be allergic to other substances not included in your patch test?

Yes. You were tested to the most common allergens known to cause allergic contact dermatitis in most people. But there are several thousand other known allergens, and you may be allergic to one not included in your patch test. Based on your symptoms, health history and occupation, our health care providers may decide to patch test you with other allergens.

Could your patch test results be wrong?

The accuracy of patch test results varies by allergen and with the intensity of your skin’s reaction. Strong reactions are easiest to identify and the most accurate. Weak and questionable reactions are harder to identify, less accurate, and easier to miss. Some reactions may need more time to develop. If you notice skin reactions at the test site after our expert patch testers have removed the patch test and finished the readings, contact us promptly. Test results can also be affected by your health, personal habits, and medications. Tell our health care providers if you have recently taken steroids or used any topical medications on your back. Also tell them if the patch test panels became loose or wet during the test period.

What else could be causing your skin rash, redness or cracking?

Other conditions, including abnormal immune reactions and harsh skin care, can cause skin reactions. Of these, two common conditions include atopic dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis, or “eczema,” is rash or skin reaction to substances usually considered harmless such as dust. You may be more likely to have atopic dermatitis if you have a personal or family history of other allergies. You may need to undergo additional tests to diagnose this condition.

Irritant contact dermatitis is a rash or skin reaction to a harsh, irritating substance that has damaged your skin. Common irritating substances include detergents, solvents, acids, alkalis, and machine oils. Harsh, wet, hot, or cold environments can also irritate skin.

What can you do to prevent skin reactions and keep your skin healthy?

  • Use mild soaps and cleansers for regular skin hygiene. Using alcohol hand rubs with emollients can also reduce the impact of repeated, harsh hand washing.
  • Apply moisturizing lotions and creams regularly to help replace and retain skin moisture. Sunscreens help prevent skin damage from UV radiation.
  • Avoid products that damage your skin, such as acids, alkalis, and solvents that strip skin oils and water.
  • Use topical steroids with care. Frequent and long-term use can lead to thin, fragile skin as well as a contact allergy.
  • Reduce direct skin contact with known allergens and substances that you have reacted to previously. Protect your skin by wearing gloves and protective clothing.
  • If you develop new skin reactions, contact our office. Prompt medical attention and an accurate diagnosis are excellent tools for taking care of your skin.
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