What is Patch Testing?

Posted on 28/08/14 8:05 PM

My grandmother probably would have thought this had something to do with quilt making or sewing but in our generation Patch testing is one of the simplest and most effective tools you can employ at home to determine whether your child is likely to react to any product you use on their skin.

With skin reactions on the rise in NZ and around the world1 we need to be wise about what and how we introduce skin products into our family.  I recommend patch testing all products that will come into contact with your child’s skin - from baby wipes to sunblock.  It has the potential to save you and your child many tears – many of us will know children who have reacted to products used on their skin and the ensuing stress is well worth avoiding if you can.

Patch testing at home can be as simple as rubbing or placing a small amount (about the size of a 50 cent piece) of product on your child prior to widespread use.  The skin of the inner wrist or elbow is ideal due to its sensitivity, although you can patch test on the shoulder blade as depending on the age of your little one the shoulder blade is more difficult for curious fingers to reach.

You may wish to cover the area with a small transparent dressing to prevent dilution of the product however this is not absolutely necessary.  Keep in mind that sometimes children react to the dressing itself which may complicate the result somewhat.

It is helpful to take a photo of the area when you apply the product so that you know where it was applied and can compare it at the end of the test.


Then wait 24-48 hours maximum to see if the skin has reacted in any way.  You may not have to wait that long, sometimes if reactions are significant you may see redness or swelling or both on the skin within minutes2,3.  If a reaction occurs please make sure you follow up with an appointment at your family doctor or skin specialist.  It is a good idea to take a photo of the area if there is a reaction to show your doctor or specialist – the saying a picture paints a thousand words comes to mind.

In my view less is always more when it comes to any skin product that you use.  Choose products with a minimum of ingredients, low allergenic factor and use organic preferably like they do at ThinkWise.  Following these steps and patch testing will help ensure you make the best possible choices for your family.

For more information regarding patch testing and skin reactions please refer to the links below

 (1)    Allergy NZ - What is the prevalence of food allergy in NZ
 (2)    WikiHow - How to patch test
 (3)    Do you do a patch test
 (4)    Patch testing for skin allergies
 (5)    Patch testing results

When using this blog please use common sense.  The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for professional advice (or as a diagnostic tool).  If you have any health concerns, seek the advice of a registered medical professional.


Posted by ThinkWise Team

Categories Ingredients    Healthy Homes    Newborns    Skin Care