#AskID -Sensitive Skin

Sensitive Skin
We asked Prof Niki Ralph:
“Dermatitis is a very common skin condition. There are many different types, the commonest being atopic dermatitis found in up to 20% of Irish children and 11% of adults. Other frequent types of dermatitis include contact dermatitis which may be irritant or allergic in nature.

If you suffer with atopic dermatitis (eczema) in childhood, asthma or hayfever, or have a family history of any of those 3 conditions, then you’re more likely to develop allergies to certain products over your lifetime, with repeated applications.

A localised dermatitis on the face/neck (where skin is thinnest and most sensitive) following the application of varying products such as moisturisers, SPF and serums may be allergic contact dermatitis. Therefore, you should seek professional advice from a Dermatologist to see if the condition is in fact possible allergic contact dermatitis for which skin patch testing would be an appropriate investigation.

Skin patch testing is a specialist investigative procedure carried out by dermatologists to find out whether a skin condition is caused or made worse by an allergy to certain substances which come in contact with the skin.

Common allergens include perfume/fragrances, jewellery (which may contain metal such as nickel), cosmetics, chemicals including preservatives.

This test takes 5 days and 3 visits to the hospital/doctor. You may be tested for a variety of potential allergens relevant to the location of their rash, such as cosmetic/fragrances, rubber, metals, dental etc.. ) Patches which contain the allergens are taped onto the back on Day 1 and left in place for 48hrs. They are then removed on Day 3 and markings are placed around each allergen on the back for a further 48hrs until the results are interpreted by your doctor at 96hrs (Day 5). One week before and during this test you will be asked to avoid taking antihistamines, oral steroids or applying topical steroids onto the back where the patches are placed.

It is also important to avoid excessive exercise/sweating as the patches may fall off or sweating can spread the allergens into one another. 
Washing is also limited during these 5 days as a full shower or bath has to be avoided.
At the end of the test, if one has a positive result, they will be given information on where this allergen is found (shampoo/showergels/cosmetics etc..) and how to avoid the allergen to try and prevent recurrence of the allergic contact dermatitis.