A woman with an allergen patch test on her back.

What I've Learned From My Chemical Patch Test

Chemical patch testing. I do not know why I never knew that existed before 2018. I have had every allergist test that there is to offer throughout my life. It is possible that I was never offered a patch test to my knowledge because I was allergic to everything that I came in contact with. Doctors would not be able to tell the difference between my general atopic dermatitis and contact or allergic dermatitis.

How has it taken this long?

Even with that, I still cannot find a logical explanation for why it took 29 years to get a patch test. Not only did it take me this long, but I also had to suggest it to the dermatologist myself to get an appointment, and it was not an easy process whatsoever!

Now that it's off of my chest, I can continue with my patch test week-long testing process and what the protocols were.

Allergic to alkyl glucoside

Skipping to the good stuff - I am 100% across the board allergic to alkyl glucoside. There are two types of this chemical that I am entirely allergic to.  Both of them showed up loud and clear on my back as positive reactive results.

How long does it take for accurate results?

My entire back was filled with common chemicals that are in most products nationwide. I began itching and burning on day two, but I was informed on day three by the nurses that there is no true allergy unless something shows up on the skin by day 5 when the patches are taken off.

What to take into consideration

The patch test requires no showers or sweating, even for the week-long process. It is the only way to patch test. That should be taken into consideration before choosing this route and planned accordingly. You also are given a waiver to sign that informs you of possible extreme reactions that can result in this process, such as full-body flares and hyper or hypopigmentation.

Patch-testing in skin of color

To put it simply, it was hard to tell my reactions because of my deep skin pigment. My experienced, highly recommended doctor knew to put me under direct light and turn it in every angle to assess my skin to the best of his ability. He had a student doctor, who he told that due to me being a person of color, you have to look a little closer to see the redness of the skin or any other indicators. I was happy to hear that being said and the time taken to examine my skin because it is truly necessary so that we can get a proper diagnosis by professionals who may not have studied our skin type in depth.

A roadmap for my eczema flares

That's patch testing in a nutshell. I waited for three years to get what I learned about recently. There was no way I wasn't getting this test that I truly believed would be capable of giving me a roadmap for my flares!

My bubble bath started the process

It turned out that the article I wrote about my "bubble-bath" flare, which motivated me to reach out to a dermatologist once and for all, is to thank for me figuring out my worst flares. The first ingredients in that bubble bath product are exactly what I was the most allergic to! It was filled with alkyl glucosides! And that product was a natural product for babies. It turns out that glucosides are a plant-derived chemical, and it is in almost everything, even products considered "eczema-friendly" or "clean" products.

A list of products available to me

Thankfully I was given an application on my phone created by the American Contact Dermatitis Society that tells me all of the products I CAN use. How useful is that! I still have more research to do on this new finding in my life, but this one puzzle piece to my story changes the way I approach the world. I officially have direction with my skin mystery. What is your patch test story? Still thinking about getting one? Share it in the comments.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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