Dr. Straka is recognized as an expert in contact allergic conditions of the skin.  He offers both standard and specialized extended contact allergy testing (patch testing) to identify the cause of your chronic skin condition.  

We understand that allergic skin conditions can be very complex.  Dr. Straka will provide a thorough consultation and evaluation, developing an individualized plan to help you manage your allergic skin disease.   

Dr. Straka brings with him more than 18 years of experience.  Click below to further understand what patch testing is, how it is performed and how it is helpful.

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What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. The rash isn't contagious or life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable, and in some instances life altering.

Many substances can cause such reactions, including soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, plants, and work exposures.

To treat contact dermatitis successfully, you need to identify and avoid the cause of your reaction. If you can avoid the offending substance, the rash usually clears up in two to four weeks. 

How it Happens

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a substance to which you're sensitive (allergen) triggers an immune reaction in your skin. It usually affects only the area that came into contact with the allergen. But it may be triggered by something that enters your body through foods, flavorings, medicine, or medical or dental procedures (systemic contact dermatitis).

You may become sensitized to a strong allergen such as poison ivy after a single exposure. Weaker allergens may require multiple exposures over several years to trigger an allergy. Once you develop an allergy to a substance, even a small amount of it can cause a reaction lasting several weeks.

Common Allergens

Sometimes the cause is an esoteric and rare, but common allergens do occur commonly.  Some common allergens include:

  • Nickel and Cobalt which is used in jewelry, buckles and many other items
  • Medications, such as antibiotic creams and oral antihistamines
  • Balsam of Peru, which is used in many products, such as perfumes, cosmetics, mouth rinses and flavorings
  • Preservatives like Methylisothiazolinone, Quaternium and Formaldehyde, which are preservatives, disinfectants and the latter also found in clothing
  • Personal care products, such as deodorants, body washes, hair dyes, cosmetics and nail polish
  • Plants such as poison ivy and mango, which contain a highly allergenic substance called urushiol.  Fragrance and other botanicals are commonly seen.
  • Airborne substances, such as hair spray and spray insecticides
  • Products that cause a reaction when you're in the sun (photoallergic contact dermatitis), such as some sunscreens and oral medications

Risk Factors (some jobs and hobbies put you at a higher risk)

Some Examples:

  • Health care and dental employees
  • Metalworkers
  • Construction workers
  • Hairdressers and cosmetologists
  • Auto mechanics
  • Scuba divers or swimmers, due to the rubber in face masks or goggles
  • Cleaners
  • Gardeners and agricultural workers
  • Cooks and others who work with food


Contact Allergy Testing is for chemicals (both naturally occurring or synthetic) that our skin comes into contact with.

At Highlander we offer Screening and Extended Patch Testing.  We have 17 years of experience managing contact dermatitis.  Sometimes Patch Testing is just one step to clearing your skin.  The counseling and follow-up care is critical, especially when an allergen cannot be avoided.  

We test the standard North American Screening tests along with trays of allergens covering Preservatives, Botanicals, Cosmetics, Metals (Jewelry and Orthopedic), Dental products, Industrial chemicals, Medications and Textile Dyes.

After assessing your dermatitis, the proper tests necessary to asses the potential causes are scheduled.  

Call to schedule your patch testing consultation today!

HELP! Download the CAMP App

The Contact Allergic Management App for your smart phone can be invaluable to shuffle through all the allergens and cross-reactors.  Just plug in your allergies and find your 'safe' products!

Click CAMP APP to see more information on how to use the resource.

How Patch Testing is Done

Patch testing is a three stage process from application to final reading.  We typically use anywhere from 80 to 220 allergens depending on the potential cause or complexity of the dermatitis.