Now that we’re in the midst of a New York spring, that means pollen, elm, ragweed, and lots of other allergens are floating through the air waiting to hit your nasal passages. It’s easy to blame the big boys of the allergen universe, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other allergens that are inflaming your sinuses, making your eyes watery, giving you a sore throat, making you sneeze, and causing your skin to become itchy and irritated.
Everyone thinks of pollen or a bee sting, but you may be allergic to cleaning products, a metal you come into contact with at work, or even an ingredient in that new skin toner.
If any of those symptoms above sound like you, your body is responding to a specific substance. What’s responsible? Your immune system. Your body has come in contact with a particular substance and your immune system reacted by calling out the cavalry, sending histamines into the blood to combat the intruder. Although the histamines’ aim is true, in excess they can inadvertently cause swelling and itching of the skin, sneezing and inflamed sinuses, and a sore throat.
That’s where Dr. Volpi comes in, playing the role of detective in this crime and finding the culprit behind your allergic reaction. He can do this with patch testing.
What is patch testing?
Patch testing is a procedure used to identity the external substances that cause a person’s allergies. In cases of contact dermatitis this can be very helpful, as the patient then knows what substances or things to avoid. Patch testing for common allergies (tree pollen, for instance) is not as effective, as avoidance is almost impossible when the plant is pollinating.
While some people know they are allergic to something, say shellfish, others have no idea. They buy a new brand of makeup, a new skin cream, and the next thing they know they’re sneezing and have a rash on their skin. Patch testing can tell the person what in the new product is causing their reaction, so they no longer buy or use the product.
What do we test for?
Our patch tests include the most common substances that may be triggering your allergic response. We start with all the usual suspects, pollens and other natural irritants. Then we move into various substances that you may not recognize by name but are found in additives to clothes, leather, ointments, and other common products. We test for these items:
- Epoxy resin
- Balsam of Peru
- Paraben mix
- Formaldehyde resin
- Wool alcohols (lanolin)
- Rubber accelerators
If there are other possibilities such as common things you come across at work, they can be added to your patch.
Once your patch results come back, we can tell you the items, ingredients, or chemicals to watch out for on product labels and such.