Practical Advice to Correctly Perform Patch Test

  • Camila Cortés PintoEmail author
  • Verónica Sanmartín Novell
  • Ana María Giménez-Arnau
Contact Dermatitis (A Giménez-Arnau, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Contact Dermatitis


Purpose of review

Allergic contact dermatitis corresponds to an inflammatory reaction caused by contact with an external agent. It is a reaction mediated by a type IV hypersensitivity mechanism or delayed, and requires prior sensitization of the individual. Patch testing is the gold standard method for the diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis. It is the in vivo proof of the effect caused by contact with the allergen, and evokes on a small scale the elicitation phase of a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. The patch test is not a complex procedure; however, its success depends on different factors that include an appropriate assessment of the patient considering the different sources of exposure to possible allergens, the correct technique of placement of the patches, and the necessary knowledge to properly interpret the results and determine their relevance. The objective of this review is to provide a series of general recommendations to adequately perform this test, and so the results are reliable and allow proper management of the patient.

Recent findings

Although used for more than 120 years, the patch test procedure is performed with variability around the world. Although the procedure is broadly similar to the original method, it is not uncommon to observe differences in the results reported by the different observers. This may be influenced, among other factors, for differences in the methodology used by the physician who perform it.


There are numerous potential points for error that the physician must keep in mind. Although during the last decades great efforts have been devoted to the optimization and standardization of the materials and the methodology, physicians’ knowledge and experience are fundamental for the reliability of the results and the benefits from this test.


Contact dermatitis Allergic contact dermatitis Patch testing Patch test reading Patch test relevance Advice for patch testing 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Camila Cortés Pinto, Verónica Sanmartín Novell, and Ana María Giménez-Arnau declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camila Cortés Pinto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Verónica Sanmartín Novell
    • 1
  • Ana María Giménez-Arnau
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyHospital Universitari Arnau de VilanovaLleidaSpain
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyHospital del MarBarcelonaSpain

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