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J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2015 Sep-Oct;3(5):669-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2015.05.001. Epub 2015 Jun 6.

A Practical Guide to Patch Testing.

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Allergy & Immunology Training Program, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, NY and Department of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY. Electronic address:


Contact dermatitis is a common disease seen by allergists, dermatologists, and primary care physicians. The gold standard for diagnosing allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is patch testing and is indicated in any patient with a chronic, pruritic, eczematous, or lichenified dermatitis if underlying or secondary ACD is suspected. Patients with acute generalized dermatitis who have extensive eczema on the back, are on immunosuppressant medications, and have applied topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, or ultraviolet radiation to the patch test (PT) site may have suppressed PT reactions. The procedure of patch testing is not a difficult one to perform, but the interpretation of the PT needs some critical components, including having an appropriate level of suspicion for the diagnosis of ACD, testing the relevant allergens in their proper vehicle and concentration, and the necessary experience to properly interpret the results. Careful history and physical examination must be correlated with the result of the PT to establish clinical relevance. Once the PT is completed, allergens are identified, and relevance has been established, educating the patient about the avoidance of exposure is critical. The Joint Task Force of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has developed updated practice parameters for contact dermatitis and patch testing, and their recommendations will be discussed (Fonacier LF, Bernstein DI, Pacheco K, Holness DL. Contact dermatitis: a practice parameter update 2015. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2015; 3(3S):S1-S40.).


Allergic contact dermatitis; Contact allergen; Contact dermatitis; Eczema; Patch test procedure; Patch testing

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