Contact Dermatitis Diagnosis and Treatment

Dermatitis is associated with various symptoms such as redness, itching, warmth, swelling, scaling, cracking, and pain. These symptoms can occur in various types of dermatitis. Qualified patch testing professionals will review your symptoms, medical and occupational history, and perform a patch test to determine if a specific allergic substance is causing your dermatitis.

To help diagnose your skin condition, keep a “diary” of when your symptoms appear, get worse or improve. It also helps to write down where your symptoms occur on your body and how long they last. If you notice that your skin gets worse after certain activities, record the reaction and the activity in as much detail as possible.

Workers in some occupations are particularly likely to develop allergic contact dermatitis because they work with highly allergenic substances. Therefore, it is important to describe your work to your health care provider. If you handle chemicals during the day, make a list of them and bring the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of each substance with you to your appointment.

How Does Patch Testing Work?

The panels will be placed on your back (or an alternative site), and you will need to wear them for 2 days. Additional tape may be applied to the panel to keep it secure. Do not remove the panels unless your health care provider tells you to do so.

After 2 days, you will return to the office to have the panels removed. When the panels are removed, some reactions may be visible on the skin. Therefore, your doctor will perform the first skin reading at this time. Two days later you will return to the office again for your second reading. Your doctor will determine if it is necessary to perform additional readings after your second reading. This additional reading can help distinguish between true allergic reactions and irritant reactions. Your patch testing results will be discussed at your final visit.

To learn more about the patch testing process, please watch this informative video, “Patch Testing for Patients.”

How is Dermatitis Treated?

Successful treatment of dermatitis symptoms depends on obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the type of dermatitis and the severity of skin reactions, our health care provider may prescribe corticosteroids, anti-fungal agents, antihistamines, barrier creams, and moisturizers for your skin; shampoos with salicylic acid, selenium, zinc, or coal tar; and oral medications. These treatments are intended to treat your symptoms and to improve your skin’s condition.

Because there is often no cure for dermatitis, our patch test specialists will discuss ways to help you avoid contact with your allergen and/or irritant, and how to improve care of your skin.

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