When using essential oils it is important to know how to perform a patch test. This will help you avoid any possible adverse reactions in case you are allergic to the oil.
What is a Patch Test?
A patch test is a form of skin testing that is done on one small patch of the skin. It is used to test for any possible skin allergies to a substance, such as essential oils.
Why Are Patch Tests Important?
Patch tests are very important because they help you avoid possible adverse reactions to essential oils. They are especially helpful for people who have sensitive skin, have existing allergies or taking prescription drugs.
The good news about patch tests is that they can be done at home, and no fancy equipment is needed at all.
How to Perform a Patch Test
Here are the simple steps on how to perform a patch test:
- Begin by making sure the area of skin on which you will be performing the test is washed, dry and clean. The best area of the skin to perform a patch test is the inner elbow or inner forearm.
- Dilute the essential oil to be tested at a concentration twice the rate at which you are planning to use it. For instance, if you are planning to make a face cream at 1% dilution, do a patch test at a 2% dilution. Similarly, if you are planning to make a pain relief ointment at 3% dilution, dilute the patch test sample at 3% dilution. Find out how to dilute essential oils here.
- Apply the diluted essential oil on the forearm.
- Seal the area with a non-medicated bandage in order to prevent water from getting in.
- Leave the bandage on for 12 – 48 hours.
- Remove the bandage and check for irritation.
- In case of any redness, rash or other forms of irritation on the skin, do not use the essential oil or essential oil product.
Are Patch Tests Infallible?
Remember, patch tests are not a guarantee that you will not react negatively to an essential oil.
You may still have an adverse reaction after doing a patch test, though the chances of this happening are much lower after doing a patch test.
Finally, a patch test is not a guarantee against skin sensitization, a condition where the immune system reacts negatively to essential oils as it would to an allergen. Sensitization develops over many months, or even years and cannot be reversed. For more on this, read: What is Essential Oil Sensitization?
Do you perform patch tests before using essential oils? Tell us in the comments below!