ASK THE ALLERGISTA: What qualified you for extensive patch testing?

ask_the_allergista

Q:

I'm getting ready to visit one of the dermatologists you suggested on one of your posts from the American Contact Dermatitis Society. Thanks a bunch for that! There's only one in my city, San Antonio. I decided to postpone the visit until after my general allergist visit for my annual testing. I get tested annually since nothing tends to show up on my skin test with the exception of one or two "minor" food allergies, despite having occasional anaphylactic reactions. After reading through your posts, I figured that I'd give a dermatologist a shot since my reactions always end up with itching/hives all over my body that come and go and my face seems to have permanent red blotches that get worse certain days with itchy acne off and on. I react to food (additives and misc whole foods,) clothing (specifically nylon and rayon for sure) and I definitely react to lotions, perfumes, soaps, shampoo, etc. I have a systemic reaction (belly ache, bloating, overall GI issues, hives, etc.) any time I am exposed to the aforementioned list.

I guess my question is (and maybe you don't know,) but do you think it is appropriate to seek testing from a derm even though I don't have the most severe form of contact dermatitis. The one physician that does the testing has to approve the testing or have one of the dermatologists on his team do a consult and then approve the testing before I actually get the testing done. So, it sounds like a lot of money to spend on an appointment to have one of them tell me I'm not a good candidate. If I do get the testing, then that's fine. I was looking to see what made your doctor consider you a candidate for testing.

Thank you!

A:

Hello!

You are so welcome! I definitely think it's appropriate for you to seek testing from a dermatologist even though you don't have the most severe form of it. Honestly, I think everybody should get tested annually if they can afford it. I ALSO think that it should be FREE for people to be tested for any man-made substances. Scientists and corporations continue to add new chemicals to our products and as time goes on, more and more people will be testing positive. It's inevitable. These chemicals aren't something naturally occurring within our eco system. We don't need them and it should be no surprise to anybody that our bodies would react negatively to them.

I was a bit of a special case when it came to me being considered for the testing. It was the same way with the dermatologist I saw who specialized in patch testing: I had to be referred to him. My skin was in such bad shape and the allergic eczema was spreading and spreading and the doctors I had been seeing didn't have the capability/tools to test me for the extensive list of chemicals, metals, etc. It turns out that they were actually prescribing me stuff I was allergic to! My dermatologist actually studied under this specialist she referred me to. She did everything she could do, looked at me one day and said," You really just have to go see Dr. Scheman."

She was right. It changed my life! If I hadn't seen him, I'd still be covered with oozing eczema and worrying everyday about getting another staph infection. I was on an HMO plan at the time and Dr. Scheman was out of my network, but the health insurance company made an exception since I was such a severe case.

I hope you are able to get that referral!! Fingers crossed!

Sincerely,

The Allergista