Indexed on: 28 Jun '13Published on: 28 Jun '13Published in: JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft
Allergic contact dermatitis is a frequent inflammatory skin disease. The suspected diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms, a plausible contact to allergens and a suitable history of dermatitis. Differential diagnoses should be considered only after careful exclusion of any causal contact sensitization. Hence, careful diagnosis by patch testing is of great importance. Modifications of the standardized test procedure are the strip patch test and the repeated open application test. The interpretation of the SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) patch test as well as testing with the patients' own products and working materials are potential sources of error. Accurate patch test reading is affected in particular by the experience and individual factors of the examiner. Therefore, a high degree of standardization and continuous quality control is necessary and may be supported by use of an online patch test reading course made available by the German Contact Dermatitis Research Group. A critical relevance assessment of allergic patch test reactions helps to avoid relapses and the consideration of differential diagnoses. Any allergic test reaction should be documented in an allergy ID card including the INCI name, if appropriate. The diagnostics of allergic contact dermatitis is endangered by a seriously reduced financing of patch testing by the German statutory health insurances. Restrictive regulations by the German Drug Law block the approval of new contact allergens for routine patch testing. Beside the consistent avoidance of allergen contact, temporary use of systemic and topical corticosteroids is the therapy of first choice.