David shared his experience of patch testing his skin to find out if allergies contributed to his eczema.
“My name is David and I am 11 years old with eczema. My eczema is often worst at certain times of the year and sometimes triggered by my allergies. I have food allergies and I am also allergic to grass. Sometimes my eczema can get bad, but I am unsure what triggers it, so I got a skin patch test recently to find out the causes.
“A skin patch test is when you get small discs about the size of 5 pence coins put all over your back. Each of these discs contain traces of a potential allergen that may make you allergic or trigger your eczema on your back.
“The test takes 5 days so on a Monday you arrive to the hospital and the patches are applied to you back with tape. The nurse draws lines all across your back with a permanent marker so she knows where to place the patches and she knows where the patches were when they are removed. Almost all of the surface of your back is covered with as many potential allergens as possible, this can be soaps, sun-creams, washing powder etc or something which you think may be causing your eczema or allergies. I know I would get very itchy and my skin would get very irritated from a lotion I sometimes use so they tested me for that too as well as many other things.
“Once all the patches are put on you can leave the hospital, but you cannot do anything that will make you sweat or anything that will wet your back because the patches would come off. This meant no sports or activities at school, so I had to miss all my clubs such as Rugby, Karate, PE etc. The patches feel itchy and are annoying because of all the tape on your back. Also, all the tape on my back kept coming off so my mum and dad had to apply more and more tape to keep them on which made it even more uncomfortable and itchier. Sleeping was hard too and when I moved the tape was always coming off.
“After you have the patches on for 2 days, you return to the hospital on the Wednesday to get the patches taken off, but you are still not able to do physical activities, sports or itch your back because you could remove the allergens and affect the results of the tests.
“Two days later on the Friday I returned to the hospital, so they can check my back to see what patches left red or swollen marks. These are the allergen that my skin reacts to and show I am allergic to. The tests show that I am allergic to linalool which is a chemical found in many things such as shower gel, washing up liquids, shampoos etc. I was told to avoid this.
“My dermatologist nurse who sent me for the test said sometimes the test are not very accurate because the tape comes off and the allergen come away. She said they might offer the test to me again later
“The patches feel itchy and are annoying, but it is worth finding out the allergens that are bad for your skin and that can trigger or make eczema worst.”