Skin Patch Testing and SkinSAFE, A Winning Combination for Clinicians and their Patients

By Joyce Heid
Apr 18, 2024

Some people are excited to try a new skincare product. For others, there can be a feeling of apprehension. At least that is how SkinSafe Trusted Friend™ Elizabeth feels. “I have eczema and have searched high and low for a moisturizer that doesn’t cause my skin to turn red and itchy. I have similar problems with soaps. Even products labeled “for sensitive skin” or “hypoallergenic” can give me a rash. My dermatologist has recommended skin patch testing to help identify what ingredients could be causing the allergic contact dermatitis.”

Elizabeth is not alone. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology, allergic contact dermatitis is quite common, occurring in up to one in five people. While children and adults can develop allergic contact dermatitis, JAMA states people with eczema originating in childhood may be more likely to develop allergic contact dermatitis.

It can be difficult to pin down exactly what is causing a contact allergy without skin patch testing. The test is usually performed in a Dermatology or Allergy office. It does not use needles. Unlike prick testing, usually done to determine if a person is allergic to dusk, pollens, or molds that can cause hay fever and asthma, in skin patch testing, allergens are taped to the skin, generally placed on the back for 48 hours, and then removed. The site of the patch placement is typically read 48 hours after their application and again 96 hours after application. 

During a skin patch test, your skin may be exposed to 80 or more samples that can cause contact dermatitis. These will include some of the most common contact allergens, such as fragrances, botanicals, preservatives, hair and textile dyes, metals, resins, and topical medications.

A positive skin test means that after exposure to the patch, you have demonstrated an allergic reaction to a particular allergen. A negative skin test means that you probably aren't allergic to a particular allergen. If your doctor is concerned the result could be a false positive, or false negative, they may suggest repeating the test.

To ensure the most accurate results possible you will be asked to follow some simple instructions prior to the test. Your clinician may advise you to avoid the sun for one to two weeks before the testing. Avoid using topical medications, including creams and ointments, on the back and any other specific areas the doctor indicates may be used for testing. However, you may use plain moisturizers up to 24 hours before the procedure. If you routinely use antihistamines, you may continue to do so prior to and during the skin patch testing. Your clinician may also provide additional instructions based on their practice guidelines. 

Once the results are available, your clinician will work with you to devise an allergy treatment plan, including what allergens and product ingredients to avoid. While the idea of endlessly reading labels to avoid triggers may seem overwhelming, help is available. SkinSAFE’s data-driven platform removes the guesswork for both clinicians and their patients.

Clinicians can utilize SkinSAFE for their patients with highly sensitive skin to create a unique patient profile that includes the ingredients the patient has been determined to be sensitive to based on the results of the skin patch testing. Patients are given a SkinSAFE SAFE for Me code to use with the SkinSAFE app that takes the guesswork out of choosing products, assuring their clinician that the products they are choosing are safe for their skin. 

SkinSAFE’s SAFE for Me code is now available to all users by upgrading to a SkinSAFE Premium plan. It allows you to use your skin patch test results and known allergens to search our database of over 115,000 products to find ones that are safe for your skin. Click HERE to learn more. 

Have a question about SkinSAFE, your skin health, or this article? Please email to contact us. 

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