Patch-Test Screening for Product Allergy Falls Flat

Combination standard, supplemental tests appear better for diagnosing skin care product reactions

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A standard patch-test screening series for diagnosing contact dermatitis allergic reactions to skin care products fails to do so in a substantial number of people, according to research published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

David A. Wetter, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues studied patch test results for 945 subjects to report the effectiveness of patch testing to a standard series in combination with a supplemental cosmetic series, and also to compare the efficacy of the combination series with various standard screening series for identifying positive allergic reactions.

The researchers noted one or more positive allergic reactions in 68.4 percent of the subjects, and two or more in 47.3 percent. They determined that nearly half (49.4 percent) reacted to a preservative and 31.2 percent reacted to a fragrance/botanical. Also, they determined that use of the thin-layer rapid use epicutaneous test, compared with the combination standard and supplemental series, would have missed allergic reactions in 22.5 percent of those sensitive to preservatives, 11.3 percent of those sensitive to fragrances/botanicals, and 17.3 percent of those with a vehicle allergy.

"Standard patch-test screening series miss a substantial number of patients with skin care product ingredient allergy," the authors write.

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