Skin Patch Test Update: Things I Should NOT Touch


So today, I showed up at the doctor’s office bright and early to remove the rest of the skin patch stickers on my back, and get a report on what my skin is allergic to.  I was hoping to get it over with as fast as possible, and then head home for a much-needed shower especially on my back!

Unfortunately, it was a good one hour before my name was called and the doctor then proceeded to check my back for reactions to the allergens.

Some allergens which showed a positive reaction after 48 hours seem to have healed, but some had quite a clear reaction. There were even some “delayed irritant reactions” which did not show positive reactions on Wednesday, but looked inflamed today.  The doctor even mentioned some had “burnt marks”.  Sounds pretty scary, if you ask me.

From the 30 standard patch test substances which the doctor prepared from her lab/clinic for me to be tested on (generic list of standard patch test substances), it was very clear that I am allergic to:

  • Isothiazolin, a type of preservative found in cleaners, shampoos, cleansers, makeup etc.  They exist mostly in the form of Methylisothiazolinone or as an Isothiazolinone mix.  Isothiazoline produced a ++ reaction on my skin, i.e. a strong positive (see below for explanation on symbols of reactivity)
  • Cobalt, a type of metal found in some costume jewelry, tools, utensils, etc., even Vitamin B12 preparations for treating anemia!  According to the patch test, cobalt presented an uncertain reaction on my skin, which might mean a minor form of cobalt allergy.
  • Colophony, also known a rosin, has a vast range of uses in household products.  Colophony (rosin) is the sticky substance from pine and spruce trees and is used in many products such as adhesives, some cosmetics, shoe polish, etc.  My reaction to colophony is also uncertain, but there was definitely some red rashes on my skin.
  • Cetavlon, is an ingredient used in antiseptic lotions, creams etc.  The brand Savlon probably derived its name from Cetavlon.  My skin registered an irritant reaction (IR) with Cetavlon.  Doc says that means “I cannot be ‘too clean’!”, given that Cetavlon is an antiseptic.

According to wikipedia, irritant reactions (IR) include miliaria (sweat rash), follicular pustules and burn-like reactions. Uncertain reactions (+/-) refer to a pink area under the test chamber. Weak positives (+) are slightly elevated pink or red plaques, usually with mild vesiculation. Strong positives (++) are ‘papulovesicles’ and extreme reactions (+++) have spreading redness, severe itching and blisters or ulcers.

From the household detergents and cleaners I brought in from my home, (shocker!) I am allergic to ALL of them (including my rubber gloves):

  • Amway L.O.C. Multi-Purpose cleaner
  • Sunlight dishwashing detergent
  • Greenworks dishwashing detergent
  • Greenworks Multi-Purpose cleaner
  • Cosway cream cleanser for stainless steel surfaces
  • Dettol Hand Soap (!!!)
  • Rubber/latex gloves

However, the tests did not show a positive and/or irritant reaction to rubber gloves from the doctor’s office, although they were also made from latex.  So guess what I was prescribed?


These are powder-free however, and I hope they’d help protect my hands somewhat.  They are like the surgical gloves, so they are pretty thin though.  But then, that makes for easier handling of things.

Here are some of the products that I was tested as positively allergic to:


A quick check on the ingredients showed the presence of Methylisothiazolinone in most of them.  In the case of Dettol hand soap, it was really an eye-opener, because my family uses this extensively in our household.  I wash my hands with this all the time, countless times a day; it’s no wonder my eczema keeps coming back again and again.

So as you can see, I desperately need a hand soap replacement.  Temporarily, I am using Cetaphil for myself, but that is rather pricey.  I was at a pharmacy last night looking at the ingredients on all the available hand soaps and all of them contained Methylisothiazolinone. 🙁

My dishwashing detergent also contains this substance (see yellow-highlighted ingredient) :


So until I find a replacement which does not contain this substance, I will need to make do with gloves…assuming those gloves don’t give me a delayed rash 🙁

The skin allergy patch test was a long duration of 5 days to endure, and I am really glad that it’s over now.  I’m relieved and happy that I can shower normally now and I am applying some creams and lotions to the affected patches pronto.  More importantly though, I now know the allergens that are causing my eczema and will be more vigilant in avoiding the said substances.

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3 Responses to Skin Patch Test Update: Things I Should NOT Touch

  1. MieVee @ says:

    I’ve eczema and sensitive skin too, have long quit using shampoo / soap / etc from supermarkets. Dr. Bronners soap can be used as hand wash, body soap, dishwashing liquid, etc.

    During travels, I even use it for my hair and face. My newborn baby uses it to bathe too.

    I usually buy 1-litre bottles, then dilute 1-1 with water into recycled Handwash bottles.

    The ingredients are very basic, more info at (If you need a USD5 coupon code, can refer to it from my blog’s right sidebar.) Hope this can really be the magic soap for you. 🙂

    The Giddy Tigress says: Thanks for the rec, I will check it out!

  2. Boon Seong says:

    make your own soap lah

    The Giddy Tigress says: Hmmm…actually that’s not a bad idea…I just need to find out the best and most effective way to do it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Joey says:

    Hey Joyce, I heard cleaning products from Melaleuca are effective, gentle with non-harsh ingredients too. Perhaps you can have a look too.

    The Giddy Tigress says: Thanks for the rec…

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