Summary Background Petrolatum patch test preparations are for practical reasons often applied in test chambers in advance, several hours or even days before the patient is tested. As many fragrance compounds are volatile it may be suspected that petrolatum preparations applied in test chambers are not stable over time.
Objectives To investigate the stability of petrolatum preparations of the seven chemically defined components in the fragrance mix (FM I) when stored in test chambers.
Methods Samples of petrolatum preparations applied in test chambers stored at room temperature and in a refrigerator for between 4 and 144 h were analysed using liquid chromatographic methods.
Results The concentration decreased by ≥20% within 8 h in four of seven preparations stored in Finn chambers at room temperature. When stored in a refrigerator only the preparation of cinnamal had decreased by ≥20% within 24 h. The stability of preparations of cinnamal stored in IQ chambers with a plastic cover was slightly better, but like the preparations applied in Finn chambers, the concentration decreased by ≥20% within 4 h at room temperature and within 24 h in a refrigerator. Cinnamal and cinnamyl alcohol were found to be more stable when analysed as ingredients in FM I compared with when analysed in individual preparations.
Conclusions Within a couple of hours several fragrance allergens evaporate from test chambers to an extent that may affect the outcome of the patch test. Application to the test chambers should be performed as close to the patch test occasion as possible and storage in a refrigerator is recommended.