How to Do a Skin-Care Patch Test — and Why It Matters
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How to Do a Skin-Care Patch Test — and Why It Matters

Johan Brown

According to the Environmental Working Group, on average, women use 12 personal care items daily, totaling 168 toxic components (EWG). Spending money on a new skincare product is exciting—until you use one that causes your skin to become irritated, red, or itching.

After switching to a new skincare product, the product's components may be at fault if you realize that your skin is irritated for no apparent reason.

A Patch Test: What Is It?

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According to Nava Greenfield, MD, a board-certified dermatologist of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, a patch test is the application of a product or substance to a small area of skin and observation of the skin's response.

You can find out how your skin could respond to a new product by patch-testing it before you use it liberally and risk-averse effects.

What Is the Purpose of a Patch Test?

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A patch test is conducted to determine whether a product or component may cause your skin to react unfavorably. It will assist you in deciding whether to include that product in your skincare routine or stay away from it.

According to Dr. Greenfield, a response might indicate a contact allergy or sensitivity to the item or substance. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, symptoms of an allergic reaction include a rash, hives, and discoloration (redness on lighter skin tones or dark brown, purple, or gray on darker skin tones) (FDA).

At-Home Versus In-Office Patch Testing

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Patch tests can be performed at home or a dermatologist's clinic. However, these are pretty different experiences.

Home patch testing "can detect whether you're sensitive to a substance, but it doesn't necessarily tell you if it's an allergy or an irritant," says Zeichner. Professional patch testing, on the other hand, "can tell you if it's an allergy or an irritation."