If you find yourself sneezing, sniffling, and experiencing hay fever during certain times of the year, then you are exhibiting signs of seasonal allergies. While it can be simple to determine that your allergies are seasonal just based off of the time of the year that you get them, this doesn't really help you learn what exactly you are allergic to. You may be allergic to pollen, dust, grass, pine trees, or any other thing that is in full blossom or getting stirred up more during certain months out of the year. It's important to learn what it is that you are allergic to so you know what it is that you have to do your best to avoid. A patch test is a simple and accurate way for you to find out all the things you are allergic to. Here is more information on patch tests.
What a patch test is
A patch test is a testing procedure in which patches are used to indicate what your allergy triggers are. The test consists of literal patches that are placed on your skin. The patches have many possible allergens that are all marked, so the dermatologist knows which area has what allergen sample on it.
Note that you may be tested for much more than simply seasonal triggers. If the doctor feels it is a good idea to also test you for things you may have in the home, like certain cleaners or materials, then these will also be added to the patches. It is better to figure out as much as you can about all of your possible allergens, then you focus solely on the outdoors and seasonal possibilities.
How a patch test works
The patches will be placed on your back, and they will be left in place for roughly 48 hours. You will come back to have the patches removed. When the doctor removes the patches, they will let you know when to return to have the results read. Generally, they will want you to come back two times.
Normally, they will want to see you again in a few days and will document skin changes. Then, they will want you to come back about a week later to document any other changes to your skin, whether the changes are that the irritation is gone or still there. They will be able to tell what it is that you are allergic to because your skin will show a reaction in the areas where your trigger allergens were touching.
Once it has been determined that you are allergic to certain things, then you know to try to avoid them. Also, you will know when you should be taking something for your allergies in order to be proactive and hopefully avoid flareups in the future.