When Brittany Fink’s daughter, Ava Rose, was 3-years-old, she developed a severe facial rash around her mouth. At first, a topical cream and prescription medication seemed to keep the flare-up under control, but inevitably the rash would continue to reappear—with each breakout more severe. Ava began developing sores on her face from scratching because the rash itched so badly. Her appearance began to take a toll on her self-esteem.
“At one point, I can remember Ava coming home from school and just breaking down in tears saying ‘I’m ugly’ and that ‘everybody is prettier than me,’” recalled Mrs. Fink, of South Jersey “Adults didn’t want their kids around her because they thought that she might be contagious. It’s heartbreaking as a mother to see your child go through something like that and not have any answers to the problem.”
After months of using facial creams, Maria Lania-Howarth, MD, Head, Division of Allergy/Immunology at Children’sRegionalHospital at Cooper, suggested Ava be tested for allergic contact dermatitis using the Chemical Patch Method. The procedure involves the application of various test substances to the skin, placed under adhesive tape that is then left on the site for 48 to 72 hours, to see if an allergic reaction occurs.
Patch testing is the only way that a physician can prove that a substance is causing or aggravating the condition of contact dermatitis. Once an allergen is identified, avoiding it should help cure your dermatitis. Dr. Lania adds, “We ask that patients set up an initial appointment so that we can begin the process of figuring out what they are allergic to. If it is determined that a patch test is necessary, we schedule these appointments shortly after their initial visit.”
Upon testing, Dr. Lania found that Ava was allergic to several things including MCI/MI and Balsam of Peru food products with cinnamon in them. Balsam of Peru is an aromatic tree resin that is used as a flavoring and fragrance in many products in the medical, pharmaceutical and perfume industries. It is similar to cinnamon and other spices.
Ironically, prior to finding this information out, Ava ate French toast and oatmeal on a daily basis. Once her diet was changed, Ava’s rash was gone within a week.
“I cannot stress how important it is for parents to get this test if they suspect their child is allergic to anything,” said Mrs. Fink. “I am forever grateful to the Allergy Division at Cooper. They have truly changed Ava’s life. I regularly send emails to the Cooper nurses and physicians expressing my unending gratitude for letting me know about this testing.”