Contact Dermatitis and Occupational Skin Disease Clinic

A patient undergoing patch testing.

Specialty care for patients suffering from skin allergies

This clinic is dedicated to the identification and management of skin allergies. Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that results from direct contact with certain substances, such as soap, cosmetics, jewelry, skin care products, gloves, clothing or plants. It can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable. This reaction typically occurs between one and seven days following contact with the substance and usually lasts longer than a few days. The rash usually presents at the site of contact, but could present in a variety of locations and distributions.

Because testing is an extensive process, a doctor's referral is required for this clinic. Once your referral has been sent, you can contact our dermatology line and request an appointment in the Contact Clinic.

What to expect

  • Prior to your visit, you will be sent a questionnaire regarding products you use/have used on the area where you experience dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). 
  • At your visit, we will utilize a method called patch testing to identify potential causes of your dermatitis.
    • Patch testing involves placing substances on small aluminum disks that are then applied to the surface of the patient's back.
    • These patches stay on for a total of 48 hours. 
  • At your followup appointment, the patches are removed and read.
    • Although the patches are removed at this time, many of the substances may take five to seven days to produce a response. For this reason, the patient must return for a final visit the following week.
  • At your final visit the care team will identify and discuss your allergies in depth, including a personalized care plan moving forward.

Frequently asked questions


An allergy is an acquired sensitivity. This means that the products that you have been using for a very long time are just as suspect if not more suspect than products that you just recently brought into your life.


Unfortunately you cannot get your back wet during the entire week of patch testing. Options for washing include a shallow bath and/or washing your hair in a sink. It is very important that you do not get the site of the patches wet. Similarly, you should avoid any activities which could result in heavy sweating.


In order to achieve reliable results you cannot have received any steroid injections (Ex: Kenalog) within one month of your patches being placed. Additionally, you cannot take any oral steroids (Ex: prednisone, cyclosporine) within one week of the patches being placed. If you are unsure if a medication you are taking falls under one of these categories, please call and ask.

The average positive reaction is about half the size of a dime, and is typically red and somewhat itchy. People often compare it to hard-to-reach mosquito bite. If a strong reaction occurs, you will be given instructions on how to remove the patch.

Your care team will discuss your positive reactions and work on a personalized plan for you moving forward.