Types of Common Skin Tests

When you see a dermatologist for a skin condition, the cause of the skin abnormality may be easily determined, but oftentimes it may require additional testing. Skin tests can help differentiate between bacterial and fungal infections, cancerous and noncancerous growths, as well as determine allergies and other diseases. The following are common skin tests used by dermatologists.

  1. Culture – Skin, hair, and nails may be cultured to diagnose causes of an infection, sore, or rash. Taking cultures can allow the dermatologist to see if a fungus, bacteria, or virus was growing so that appropriate treatment can be prescribed.
  2. Biopsy – A biopsy involves removing a tissue sample to allow the dermatologist to get a closer look at the area for analysis. There are several methods for removing the samples:
    1. Punch biopsy – a thin cylindrical tool is inserted into deeper tissue layers to remove a sample.
    2. Shave biopsy – A razor blade is used to remove more superficial layers of tissue.
    3. Wedge excision – A scalpel is used to remove a larger or deeper area.
  3. Patch testing – This procedure, which is often used to determine contact skin allergies, involves testing to see if the skin reacts to certain known allergens. Very small amounts of allergens are placed onto the skin with adhesive bandages, which are then observed after a period of time.
  4. Skin prick/injection test – These tests use needles to test the skin for up to 40 different potential allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, mites, and foods. The skin is scraped with a small needle to allow for each allergen to enter the skin, and reactions are monitored.

If you notice a skin abnormality that is not healing or is recurring, seeing an experienced, board-certified dermatologist is the fastest way to determine an appropriate treatment. Dr. Juan Vaillant of Old Bridge Dermatology has been practicing for over 30 years and also specializes in anatomic and clinical pathology to further aid patients in treating skin, hair, and nail conditions such as acne, hair loss, and skin cancer. Contact our Old Bridge, NJ office at (732) 679-0222 for an appointment today!