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Why you should do a patch test.

Image by Pawel Blaxewicz

I remember when I used to wear semi-permanent eyelashes and whenever I would try a different eye lash technician they would ask me to do a patch test some days before my treatment. This used to annoy me because I wanted my lashes done last minute and did not have time to wait a day or two. The reason for the patch test was to see if I was allergic to the glue and to protect me and my eyes.

In dermatology, patch tests have been used for decades to diagnose possible contact dermatitis to certain products including skin care products. Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin caused by contact to foreign substances. There are two types of contact dermatitis irritant and allergic.

Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when a foreign substance causes a reaction on the skin (surface). In allergic contact dermatitis, the foreign substance triggers an immune response in the body.

Patch tests are particularly useful for people who are prone to eczema as they can identify potential allergens and prevent possible reactions.

We are all individuals, therefore, we all respond to cosmetics, food, drugs and skin care products differently. It is important to carry out patch tests before using new products to avoid damaging your skin and body. In the long run patch tests can save you a lot of money and they will allow you to maximise the use of new products.

There is currently no national standard for performing patch tests, different dermatologists use different procedures. The procedure when carried out by a dermatologist often involves testing your reaction to over 40 different common substances (allergens). The test will most likely be carried out over  at least three different appointments. During the initial appointment the allergens will be left on an area on your skin usually arm or back for about 24 to 48 hours. After which, you will need to return to your dermatologist to see if you have had a reaction.

You can also do a  patch test at home. Before using any skin care products I always try and do a patch test at home. I apply the skin care product on the inside of my elbow and I usually give it about two days to see if i react. To save money I usually ask for a sample of a product then I use this sample to do the patch test.

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Tanno, L. K., Darlenski, R., Sánchez-Garcia, S., Bonini, M., Vereda, A., Kolkhir, P.. . WAO Junior Members Group. (2016). International survey on skin patch test procedures, attitudes 

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