How to Perform the Iodine Patch Test

Iodine is one of the building blocks the thyroid uses to produce the hormones necessary for proper metabolic function. As you might guess, without enough iodine, you can experience a number of problems, such as hypothyroidism. One of the most popular ways to test for iodine deficiency is the iodine patch test. The Iodine Patch Test theoretically measures how quickly the body absorbs iodine through the skin. The issue with this test is that it’s not 100% reliable and doesn’t provide an extensive view of your iodine levels as could a test done by your doctor.



What is the Iodine Patch Test?

The iodine patch test supposedly measures how quickly your body absorbs iodine. Again, this isn’t a proper substitute for a clinically-performed test that will actually measure your iodine levels accurately. Despite the popularity of the iodine patch test, no research supports its ability to measure iodine levels. That being said, here are the steps to perform it:

  1. Get a solution or tincture of iodine (the orange solution, not the clear one.
  2. Paint a 3-inch by 3-inch square on your abdomen, inner thigh or inner forearm. Allow it to dry before touching anything, as it will stain.
  3. Monitor the patch over the next 24 hours for color changes.

Proponents of the test believe that the thing to pay attention to is how long it takes for the iodine patch to disappear. If the patch still exists 24 hours later, the results are normal. If the patch disappears or mostly disappears in less than 24 hours, it is supposed to indicate some degree of deficiency. In fact, significant lightening or disappearance in less than 18 hours is said to indicate moderate to severe iodine deficiency and suggest a need for supplemental iodine.

Is the Iodine Patch Test Actually Reliable?

Although several recent studies have demonstrated increases in iodine levels through skin absorption suggesting the result of this test may reflect a deficiency or adequacy of iodine, a lot of other factors suggest otherwise. [1] [2] [3]

A number of factors play a role in the disappearance of the yellow color of iodine from the surface of the skin. For example, if iodine is reduced to iodide by the skin, the yellow color of iodine will disappear because iodide is white. The evaporation of iodine can also be affected by ambient temperatures and atmospheric pressure. If you’re looking for a way to test your iodine status, the loading test is much more accurate.

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

GHC youtube Video

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Everything You Need to Know About Iodine

Video Length: 60 minutes

References:

  1. Miller KL, Coen PE, White WJ, Hurst WJ, Achey BE, Lang CM. Effectiveness of skin absorption of tincture of I in blocking radioiodine from the human thyroid gland. Health Phys. 1989 Jun;56(6):911-4.
  2. Zimmermann MB, Crill CM. Iodine in enteral and parenteral nutrition. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Feb;24(1):143-58. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2009.09.003.
  3. Tomoda C, Kitano H, Uruno T, Takamura Y, Ito Y, Miya A, Kobayashi K, Matsuzuka F, Amino N, Kuma K, Miyauchi A. Transcutaneous iodine absorption in adult patients with thyroid cancer disinfected with povidone-iodine at operation. Thyroid. 2005 Jun;15(6):600-3.

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  • Michael Labelle

    I’ve done some reading concerning adding iodine to both fertilizer (I manufacture organic fertilizer) as well as using iodine as a foliar spray/soil amendment. Do you have any info about such practices?

  • ghc_health

    Haven’t seen that information Michael, do you have a link or info you can share?

  • Michael Labelle

    I’ve done some reading on the subject. Ultimately, the purpose of fertilizer is to make the fruit of the plant more nutritious. Certain foods provide specific minerals specific to that food. For example, turmeric supplies the body with yttrium, a mineral crucial for one specific bacteria in our gut that produces a specific enzyme that protects the body from some forms of cancer. Brazil nuts supply the body with selenium. Iodine is readily taken up by spinach, so it serves to reason that supplying spinach with an iodine enriched fertilizer would increase the amount of iodine in the spinach.

  • michelle

    I have had Gastric Sleeve surgery which takes a significant part of the stomach out. If I take this product will it be absorbed properly…I have to take sublingual B-12 because of absorption issues.

  • ghc_health

    It’s hard to say… although the patch test specifically is absorbed through the skin and would not likely be impacted.

  • Angel

    Mine faded in 4 hours. And my moms faded in 30 minutes. My mom’s thyroid has completely failed. And The doctors think that I might have hashimoto’s

  • Brenda

    My TSH level was 388. I have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism. The dr. says I do not have hypothyroidism. My question is this:If the iodine disappears before 24 hours, can I just keep applying the iodine daily or weekly to treat this or is something else needed to be done?

  • Kelly

    Are you sure your TSH was 388 and not 3.88?

  • Kelly

    The article completely contradicts the information in the video: Says to put it on at night (before bed) and that the test is a 24 hour test, yet the video says to put it on in the morning, and check it over the next 12 hours. ???

  • Simone Judge

    mine disappeared in four hours but my blood test came back with borderline resuts which in Drs trms means normal?????

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Has it changed after supplementing with iodine?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Sure, borderline normal at that moment when your blood was taken.

  • Anonymous

    I have been taking five drops of Lugol’s 2% solution for the past two years. I’ve become more cold tolerant and don’t sweat profusely in heat and humidity since taking the Lugols solution. When doing the Iodine patch test, the stain still disapears in less than 24 hours, some times less than 12. Your thoughts?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    It sounds like your body is absorbing the iodine.

  • Denise Chapman

    How many drops of Iodine in the 3 inch square? Im sure that makes a difference?

    What strength Iodine?

    Iodine or Iodine with Iodide?

  • Eddieg

    Can you use the Deoxadine to do a test—After you do the test how do you know how many drops of the detoxadine you should take????

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  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Use a tincture of iodine for the test, it “paints” the color the best. You won’t get that sort of answer regarding serving but it’s best to just use as directed on the label.

  • Organa

    If it shows a deficiency, can you continue to apply it in cycles until it it reaches the 24 hour point absorbancy?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center
  • Beata

    Dr. Group, do you treat patients on line? I am currently not in the US. I have Hashimoto, is it safe for Hashimoto patients to take iodine?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Hi Beata, We don’t see patients, sorry! We recommend that persons with Hashimoto’s talk to their naturopathic doctor or healthcare advisor who is working directly with them before taking any supplements or self-treating their situation.

  • Gina

    Mine has been fading since application and 2-1/2 hours later is barely visible. I’m going to buy the iodine supplement in this article but how much should I take? It seems the standard dosage may not be enough.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Getting back on track takes some time. Just use as directed on the label.

  • Natalie Rivera

    what kind of Iodine? what if i cant spend more then $10-13? i dont know which one to pick because this article doesnt say a list of companies

  • Pingback: FitKim » Blog Archive » The Importance of Iodine()

  • Leslie Byrd

    2% Iodine. Walmart pharmacies carry it or can order for you. Inexpensive- usually less than $10.

  • Leslie Byrd

    My mom-in-law told me about this test and painted the patch on my forearm in the evening. Within 8 hours the patch was gone. My levels are borderline low. My two sisters have had thyroid issues, one is on medication. My biological mom and grandmother did as well. I’ve been trying for years to get local doctors to take me seriously about my own case, as I have SOOO many symptoms. But because levels are always “normal” when tested, concerns are thereafter overlooked. This week I’m going in to yet ANOTHER doctor, who looked skeptical about the patch test and other info I mentioned, but has agreed to do a T3 & T4 test, & I believe, test iodine levels.

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