How to Perform an Allergy Patch Test

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

If you have allergies or skin sensitivity, it is always best to do a patch test. Even natural ingredients, like herbs, oils, or essential oils can cause sensitivity reactions.

Please note that although patch testing may help to identify a problem ingredient, it is not always a foolproof test. A patch test is not a guarantee against an allergic reaction or skin sensitivity in the future. Patch Tests are especially helpful for people who have allergies and/or skin sensitivities.


1. Be sure the area of skin on which you will be performing the test is washed, dry and clean. 2. Apply a small amount of item you are testing on the upper part of your inner arm (at the crook of the elbow). 3. Cover it with a bandage. 4. Choose a time of day where you can leave the patch test in place for least 24 hours without getting it wet.

If you are sensitive to any of the ingredients, a reaction such as reddening, burning, itching, or other irritation, should occur within twenty-four hours of application. If you feel any irritation or reaction, remove the bandage immediately and wash area with soap and water. If you don't see or feel any reaction, the preparation is probably safe to use.


Patch testing is a way of identifying a substance that causes contact dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatitis: An irritant reaction does not involve the immune system. It is most pronounced immediately after the patch is removed and fades over the next day. Although a substance that causes an irritant reaction may exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema, the reaction will not get worse with repeated exposure to the irritant. 

Allergic contact dermatitis: An allergic reaction is due to substance called an allergen and occurs only in those who are allergic to that particular substance. These reactions involve the immune system.

Note: since an allergic reaction may take a few days to develop, if you are an allergic type person it is important to keep an eye on the patch area for a few days after the patch is removed before using the product. A substance that causes an allergic reaction should be avoided completely. The more times the skin is exposed to the substance, the worse the allergic reaction can become.

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