A patient lays on a bed with their back exposed and allergy patches all over it.

My Patch & Scratch Allergy Testing Results

Scratch and patch testing - I have to say, I wish I had done this a long time ago. To be fair, I actually did.

Rewind

Back in 2019, I went in for a scratch test. I had also wanted to discuss patch testing while there. However, the allergist was extremely smug and rolled her eyes at me when I began explaining topical steroid withdrawal. It quickly put me off and, sadly, I didn't listen to much else she had to say. I never made that second appointment for the patch testing, and I don't ever remember her going over my results.

Fast forward

In dermatology, it's easy to prescribe a drug to mask uncomfortable eczema symptoms. But that's all it is, a mask.

For too long, I journeyed down a path with few answers. Many of us do that. It's easy to, especially when some dermatologists are only interested in our appearance, not our overall health. But, I decided to dive deep a few months ago (after a life-changing surgery) and nabbed myself a stellar clinical nutritionist. If you are feeling lost in your journey, I suggest that you do the same.

Leaving no stone unturned

As a nutritionist, she definitely wanted me to take a food sensitivity test. This was major. I found out I have a high sensitivity to corn and soy, which are hidden in many food products. They're almost inescapable here in America. She has been extremely helpful in navigating this.

That wasn't enough for me, though. Because of my surgery, I needed to make sure I was not allergic to the metal in my hip. I began displaying a large patch of eczema around the surgery site. It is natural to fear the worst in that scenario.

I found a new allergist

So, I found a new allergist. To my surprise, I quite liked her. *They are out there, I promise!

Now, she wasn't well versed at all in topical steroid withdrawal, but her demeanor allowed me to feel safe under her care.

Two rounds of patch testing

I first did two rounds of patch testing with her. If you have insurance, at least with mine, you only get 80 patches. On my first go around, I had to test the metals (30 patches) and then the "North American" patches, which are comprised of many different chemicals and elements, including three types of steroids. They accidentally put one on me (I freaked out as a TSW sufferer), but they got it off as quickly as they could after I had caught their blunder. Always check the paperwork!

Woman with patches on her back for allergen testing

I wasn't able to get all of the North American patches done because I would have exceeded the 80 patches, plus I had no room on my back.

The first round

The first reading, which happens two days later, showed a very irritated spot reacting to a metal and a slightly irritated spot reacting to nickel, which is an element inside the screws used in my hip (yeaaaaaaa...). It wasn't a true allergy but was something I was looking to find.

Because of insurance, they were going to stop there, but I didn't.

The second round

I wanted to dig in. I paid for a second round; for the last 20 I needed to finish out the North American pack.

 Back with results of patch and scratch test.
What I found was extremely enlightening.

I am highly allergic to an agent used as a disinfectant for surgical equipment in hospitals. Ding, ding. That information was worth every penny I spent. Two others also popped up as slight irritants (even less than nickel), but were super important to know. One was propylene glycol - yeah, found in tons of products.

Why does this matter?

If I had never taken these tests, I never would have known that I was allergic to something astronomically vital that no one even thought to check on (surgery wise - and I have a second surgery soon). Second, I asked for my papers from my previous allergist visit and, unbeknownst to me, I had a baker's yeast allergy. That can't be right?

A new scratch test

Because of my confusion, I asked for a new scratch test, which was done on my arms. It was done on my back the time prior, so this was a first. And, low and behold, I was totally allergic to baker's yeast! It is in many baked goods that rise. So, those were off the table.

Getting answers for my eczema

As annoying as all of these answers felt, I was and am so grateful for them. It helps me stay informed. It allows me to understand the inner workings of my body. This is imperative for us all.

Do not let these questions you have go unanswered. Do whatever it is you need to get you on the right path. Guessing only leaves us more confused and exhausted.

What are some tests you've done to help improve your self-knowledge?

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