FAQ for Patients

IBS-80 Basic and IBS-80 Plus look for food allergies that may cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). When the food is eliminated from the diet, the IBS symptoms often improve or disappear.

The allergic reaction in the skin from a patch test is called a “Type 4” delayed hypersensitivity reaction, or allergic contact dermatitis (similar to poison ivy). The theory behind IBS-80 is that the allergic reaction caused by the food’s contact with the skin also occurs when the same food is eaten. This likely results in inflammation of the lining of the intestine and IBS symptoms as it passes through. When the food is eliminated from the diet, the IBS symptoms often improve or disappear.

The foods have been carefully selected over a ten-year period from the medical literature as foods known to cause allergic contact dermatitis (Type 4 allergies) in the skin. The foods are also among those used in the most recent study .  All of the food allergens used are commonly found in our food supply.

Basic tests for allergic reactions to 80 foods that were among the most commonly reactive in the most recent clinical study,  accounting for 97.5% of all the reactions. Plus includes all 80 foods in Basic as well as 26 additional foods that were among the least commonly reactive in the same study. These 26 additional foods accounted for 2.5% of the reactions in the latest study.

Currently, only Basic and Plus are available.* If your provider’s prescription for you lists any food allergies, those foods will be not be included in the patch tests.

*Note, however, that if Basic is administered and allergens are identified, yet after one month of avoidance the symptoms persist, it is recommended that you be tested for the remaining 26 allergens since one or more of these allergens may also be contributing to the symptoms. Have your provider contact us for information about ordering these additional 26 allergens.

If you have any known food or food additive allergies, report them to your provider prior to his/her ordering IBS-80 so that they can be excluded from the patch tests.

Prick and scratch testing and RAST blood testing search for “Type 1” allergies, which involve antibodies and histamine. Type 1 allergies cause conditions such as hives and anaphylaxis and are caused by food allergens such as peanuts and shellfish. These foods typically are different than the foods used for IBS testing that are known to cause Type 4 allergies. Type 1 allergy testing has been studied and in most cases is believed not to be useful in the evaluation of IBS.

The foods have been prepared by The Compounding Pharmacist in West Chester, PA by licensed compounding pharmacists, following Pennsylvania Pharmacy Board good manufacturing practices and the United States Pharmacopeia Chapter 795.

Your provider will give you detailed instructions prior to the administration of IBS-80.  There is also information on our About IBS-80 page.

If you are allergic to any of the foods or food additives being tested, you may develop a small red itchy or burning spot or bump at each skin test site where an allergic reaction occurs. While generally mild, a severe reaction could blister or create an open sore at the test site. The use of a medicated cream may be needed to relieve these itching or burning sensations. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to remove the test strips before the standard 48-hour test time because of severe itching or burning. If pain develops, call your provider. Occasionally, a dark or light spot at the test site appears during healing. Healing with or without medication normally takes place within 2 weeks, although reactions in some individuals may persist longer.  Some dark or light scars may last for months but are rarely permanent.


Very rarely, anaphylactic (immediate allergic) reactions have been reported to occur with skin patch testing. Should hives, sweating, dizziness, wheezing or shortness of breath occur after application of the patch tests, you should remove the patches yourself and inform your provider immediately. This type of reaction may need emergency care such as epinephrine injections and breathing support.


Rarely, patch testing may cause a person to become allergic to one or more of the substances being tested. A test reaction that appears 7 days or later with no preceding reaction may be a sign of a newly developed allergy. Such an allergy may cause a rash if you touch the substance to which you have become allergic or an upset stomach if you eat it.  The rash can be treated effectively with over-the-counter or prescription creams, if necessary.


Reactions to the tape or adhesive may occur. The panel tape and the individual patches are composed of polyester. The adhesive used in the panels is acrylate-based and processed to remove free monomers that may be allergenic

You should not participate if you:

  1. are pregnant;
  2. have a severe rash;
  3. know you have a severe allergy to adhesive tape;
  4. have received by injection or by mouth any cortisone-containing or other immunosuppressive medications (Prednisone 10 mg or less per day is okay) within the week before the testing or plan on doing so  during the testing;
  5. have applied any topical corticosteroid (aka “steroid” or “cortisone”) medications on your back within two weeks prior to testing.
  6. have within 4 weeks of testing received more than minimal sun exposure on the areas of skin to be used for testing.

Note: Antihistamines will not interfere with the testing.

Patch testing costs are determined by your provider. Costs typically range from about $7 to $14 per food allergen. IBS-80 Basic tests to 80 food allergens and IBS-80 Plus to 106 food allergens. These ranges are meant as a general guide; costs may be more or less with any given provider. There may be additional fees for the office visits.

Some healthcare insurers cover the testing and others do not. Prior to scheduling, you may ask your provider whether the testing will be submitted to your insurance. If so, you may ask your provider’s office if they can check for you whether the testing is a covered service under your plan or you may check with your insurer yourself. For IBS, typically diagnosis code K58.9 (IBS) and procedure code 95044 (patch testing) are used for billing, with the number of units being 80 for IBS-80 Basic and 106 for IBS-80 Plus. Note that many insurance policies limit patch test coverage to 80 units per year.