Ask The Allergista: Allergy Patch Testing - What should I expect?

Reader:

I'm highly considering making an appointment with Dr. Scheman because I can't find a doctor here that knows any more than I do (and that isn't saying much). First, can you explain the process you went through with him? Second, would it be worth it? It will be a nine hour drive and staying over night for the days I'm there.

The Allergista:

It was two appointments. In the first one, we talked about my routine at home, at work and also any habits or hobbies. Then, he used that information to determine what I was most likely being exposed to. The next step is putting on the allergen patches. There are no needles or scratch testing – the allergen is applied directly to the skin. Then, they cover it and tape it up. Not only did my skin react to the allergens, but I reacted to the tape as well, go figure. My back was filled with patches from top to bottom. After five days of keeping the patches on and not getting anything wet, it’s time for the second appointment. They remove the patches, rate all of your reactions and then sit down and discuss everything with you.

To address your second question, it was a life changer for me. Had I not gone to him, my skin would still be destroyed. Now things are much more manageable because I know what to avoid. I didn’t do the synthetic fabric testing, which I regret now, but I plan to go back this year and go another round. I know it’s such a haul for you – I feel for ya! You’ll be near Chicago, though, so maybe you could make the trip kind of fun!

CORRECTION: omg omg I totally forgot. Ok, I just got off the phone with Dr. Scheman's office because I scheduled another patch testing session (yaaay!). It's THREE visits - not two. It goes like this: Monday, put the patches on. Wednesday: nurse takes them off. Friday: Dr. Scheman rates the reactions. They reminded me when I called just now and I had forgotten since it's been a couple years. My appointment is the first full week in February, so I'll make sure to take lots of photos! SO excited!