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Contact Dermatitis Testing & Treatment

Itchy rashes from contact dermatitis can make your every move uncomfortable. But with experienced physicians and sophisticated testing from Allegheny Health Network (AHN), you can finally get relief. We pinpoint the source of the problem and deliver treatments that keep it from coming back.

What is contact dermatitis?

This condition happens when substances you are allergic to (allergens) touch your skin. Your body has an allergic reaction causing swelling, rashes, and blisters. For example, if you are allergic to latex, a form of rubber, wearing latex gloves will likely cause these symptoms.

Other common allergens that cause contact dermatitis include:

  • Perfumes and fragrances in soaps, shampoos, or other personal care products
  • Preservatives and dyes in cosmetics
  • Substances in laundry detergent and dry cleaning chemicals
  • Ingredients in medications or lotions you rub into your skin
  • Metals, such as nickel, that are in jewelry and zippers
  • Chromates, which are substances found in leather and paint

Contact dermatitis care at AHN: Why choose us?

We are one of few programs in western Pennsylvania offering patch testing for contact dermatitis. Patch testing helps us identify which substances you are allergic to. We conduct patch testing by applying patches of small samples of potential allergens to your back.

Our years of experience help us know which substances to test for and how to interpret the results. Our approach helps you begin treatment right away so you can get much-needed relief faster.

Patch testing for contact dermatitis: What to expect

Patch testing often tests for up to 35 common allergens. Patch testing at AHN includes additional allergens you may be exposed to at work. If you work in health care, for example, we may test for latex. If you work in a factory, we may test for chemicals that are present in your work environment.

Patch testing often takes place over the course of three appointments. Here’s what to expect:

  1. Applying patches: We apply small patches of potential allergens to your back. You may start experiencing rash-like symptoms, but they are usually mild. 
  2. Labeling test areas: After 48 hours, we gently remove the patches and label the precise location of each allergen.
  3. Interpreting results: At your third appointment, the dermatologist checks your back for rashes. This evaluation helps us confirm which allergens are causing the rash. We apply medication to treat the rash.

Contact dermatitis treatments

Contact dermatitis treatments at AHN may include:

  • Creams and medications: We may recommend over-the-counter allergy medications, such as antihistamines, to treat the rash. In some cases, we prescribe creams or antibiotics.
  • Recommendations: We help you find products that do not contain allergens. If the problem is dyes or perfumes, we may recommend personal care products and cosmetics that do not contain those substances.
  • Phototherapy: We use a special lamp to expose your skin to ultraviolet light, which is like sunlight. The light triggers a response that reduces inflammation. Phototherapy can help you get relief from symptoms that do not respond to other treatments. Learn more about phototherapy for skin disease.

How to get patch testing at AHN

Patch testing is available at our Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) office from Charles E. Mount, MD.

To receive patch testing, you need either:

  • A physician referral
  • An assessment from one of our dermatologists to see if you need patch testing provides patch testing.

Contact dermatitis care locations

Care is available at:

Cranberry

125 Emeryville Drive
Suite 120
Cranberry, PA 16066

724-741-3120
Get directions

Fox Chapel

241 Freeport Road
Suite 7
Aspinwall, PA 15215

412-784-1606
Get directions

AGH Office North Side

490 East North Avenue
Allegheny Professional Building, Suite 107
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

412-359-3376
Get directions

Contact Us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412-362-8677) or request an appointment to learn more about AHN dermatology services.