Iodine provides one of the building blocks for key thyroid hormones necessary for proper metabolic function. Iodine deficiency can lead to health problems, such as hypothyroidism. But… how can you tell if you’re iodine deficient? Is there a quick way? Yes. In an effort to identify iodine deficiency, the Iodine Patch Test offers a simple, home test that anyone can perform. The test simply measures how quickly the body absorbs iodine through the skin.
This Iodine Patch Test consists of three simple steps:
- You need a solution or tincture of iodine (make sure it is the orange solution, not the clear one) You can use Detoxadine.
- Paint a 3 inch by 3 inch square, ideally on the abdomen, inner thigh or the inner portion of the forearm. Do this before bed but make sure it dries before tucking yourself in (you don’t want a mess).
- When you wake in the morning, and really over the next 24 hours after application, check the color of the patch.
How to Track the Iodine Patch Results
The iodine patch test needs a 24 hour window of time. As mentioned, the iodine patch test measures how quickly your body absorbs iodine. The faster it absorbs it, the more likely you may need iodine. 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 may indicate some degree of deficiency. In fact, significant lightening or disappearance in under 18 hours could indicate moderate to severe iodine deficiency and suggest a need for supplemental iodine.
A few important notes about the iodine patch test… Make sure you use an iodine solution made for application to the skin. It’s also important to remember that this is a home test and the results do not guarantee deficiency or adequacy of iodine levels. 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.    Supplementing your diet or nutritional regimen with iodine may be something to think about.
To learn more about iodine, check out the video for my webinar, Everything You Need to Know About Iodine.
- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.