Do you feel like your skin has become more sensitive with time? Are there certain products that cause itching and a rash when you use them? Frustrated with buying new products and not knowing if your skin will tolerate them? Well, patch testing, a procedure available at SkinCare Physicians, can help determine if a product may be right for your skin or not.
Common forms of skin allergic reactions to products
Dermatitis, or eczema, is a common skin condition that many patients experience – manifested by a red, scaly, sometimes itchy rash on the skin. There are many types of eczema. One of the more common types is irritant dermatitis – where certain products, mainly personal care products and cosmetics, cause burning or stinging with application. There is also a form of eczema called allergic contact dermatitis – where one develops an allergic reaction to a product. This can be to a new product or one that has been used for years. The most common causes of these allergic reactions are preservatives, fragrances, and sunscreen agents found in products.
Are natural products or hypoallergenic products the solution?
As our society becomes increasingly aware of allergic reactions and favor natural products, many more botanicals are being used in skin care products. People often feel that because a product is natural it is good for the skin. The problem is that many of these natural products contain botanicals, which people can become allergic to as well, leading to a rash with use. Also, manufacturers of cosmetics may label a product as “hypoallergenic” leading the consumer to believe that the product causes fewer allergic reactions. However, there are no federal standards or definitions that regulate the use of this term and it has very little meaning. For people with sensitive skin, using skin care products with a limited number of ingredients is best. Products in skin care lines such as Vanicream and Silk Therapeutics have very few ingredients, making them less likely that someone could develop an allergic reaction.
Consider patch testing: knowledge is power
It can be frustrating for patients to ignore whether a product will cause their skin to react. Through the use of a special procedure, called patch testing, patients can learn which ingredients they are allergic to and start avoiding products that contain them. Patch testing allows your dermatologist to recommend specific products that are right for your skin and will not cause a reaction. Knowing what to avoid is a powerful tool for allergy-prone shoppers who are trying to decide between the myriad of skin care products available on the market today.
Patch testing involves three visits to the office. On the first visit small patches containing the most common allergens are applied to your back. 48 hours later you return to have these patches removed and a grid is drawn on the skin. The final visit is one week after the first and at this visit you will find out which ingredients you may be allergic to and are educated on how to avoid them. A list of products that are safe for your skin will also be provided at this visit.
Tired of guessing if you will develop or not an allergic reaction to a skin care product? Wait no more. Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist or request a consultation with one of SkinCare Physicians’ dermatologists near Boston to get your patch testing.
Editor’s note: This updated blog was originally published on Nov 14, 2013.