What's Causing That Itch?

Have you noticed that all of a sudden you have developed an unsightly rash?  Has your skin become itchy and irritated seemingly out of the blue?  This could be the cause of contact allergic dermatitis.  Contact allergic dermatitis is a condition in which the skin has an allergic reaction to a substance.  There could be a number of different allergens which can trigger such a reaction in your skin.  According to Mayo Clinic, some common causes of contact allergic dermatitis are medications, personal care products such as soaps, deodorants and cosmetics, or nickel which can be used in belt buckles. Often times, the symptoms do not occur until days after you have come in contact with the irritant so it is hard to point out exactly what has caused the rash.

You can treat the rash with topical ointments, creams or even medication.  However, these methods just cover up the symptoms and do not treat the root cause.  Eventually, the rash will return if you happen to come in contact with the offending substance again. The only way to reverse and prevent this from occurring again is to identify the irritating substance and avoid coming into contact with it.

The best method to find out exactly what is causing your contact dermatitis is to have a patch test.  Patch testing involves placing several patches on various parts of your body.  These patches contain different substances which are known to cause skin rashes and allergic reactions.  These patches are initially left on the body for around 48 hours.  During this time you cannot get the area wet, and are only able to sponge bathe during that time.  You also have to be very careful not to disturb the area in any other way.  After 48 hours, you return to the doctors' office to get your results.  The doctor will examine the individual areas on your body for any signs of a reaction.  Once the results are completed you should know the exact substance that is causing your skin irritation. 

Patch testing services usually take place in the office of a dermatologist or even an immunologist.  The procedure does not involve any needles so there is no pain involved.  However, there may be some skin irritation or discomfort because you are being directly exposed to specific allergens which may cause a reaction.  If you do get a reaction, it's a good sign because now you can pinpoint the substances to which you are allergic.   Now, all you have to do is avoid those substances and you will be free of the itchy, irritated skin for good.