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Contact Dermatitis Clinic

What is contact dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is the rash that appears when the skin comes into contact with something it finds irritating. Though the rash can appear right away, it usually takes a couple of days to develop and can last for several weeks to months.  People can sometimes develop contact dermatitis from something they have used for years.    

The Contact Dermatitis Clinic at Tufts Medical Center is dedicated to helping patients identify and manage their contact dermatitis. The best way to do this is through a process called patch testing. 

What is patch testing?

Patch testing is a non-invasive form of allergy testing, different from the prick testing that is performed for food and environmental allergies.  Instead, patch testing evaluates for allergies to things like fragrances, dyes, preservatives, rubber, metals, topical medications, sunscreens, certain plants, and more. 

During patch testing, multiple "patches" containing different potential allergens (usually 80 to 100+) are placed on the skin, marked and left on for 48 hours. Patch testing typically requires three office visits: 
  1. Monday: Initial evaluation and patch placement (Doctor visit)
  2. Wednesday: Patch removal and first "read” (Nurse visit)
  3. Friday: Second "read" and education about final results (Doctor visit)
After patch testing, a detailed letter will be sent to your referring provider with your results and suggested treatment strategies. Please note: patch testing can be done in children but is typically avoided in pregnant or nursing women.  

To make the patch testing processes as smooth as possible, we ask that you follow the steps below prior to your visit:

1. Please carefully review the Patch Test Guide

2. Please fill out the Patch Test Patient Form and return it to us TWO WEEKS before your visit.  

At your first visit, your doctor will ask you a lot of questions about your rash, your life and the products that you use to help determine what allergens to test you to.  Filling out this form carefully in advance allows both you and your doctor to start thinking about potential causes of your rash.  

3. Please gather any products that you think may be responsible for your rash and bring them to your FIRST as well as your THIRD/FINAL patch test visit.   

At your first visit, we may be able to personalize your patch test to include the products you bring in. At your third/final visit where you get your patch test results, we may look at your products and their ingredients again to see if any of them may be the source of your rash.  

Examples include: makeup, lotion, gloves, clothing, shoes. If you are bringing essential oils, please bring them in whatever dilution you typically use them. 

4. If you have been patch-tested before, and/or have been biopsied outside of Tufts Medical Center, please ask your doctor for your results so that we may review them.  
It may also be helpful to bring paper copies with you to your visit.  

Please have previous patch test and biopsy results and your Patch Test Patient Form faxed to us at 617-636-9169.   

Joyce W. Hoot, MD

Joyce W. Hoot, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Dermatologist; Assistant Professor, TUSM
Department(s): Dermatology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-0156
Fax #: 617-636-8316

Contact Dermatitis

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Clarissa Yang, MD

Clarissa Yang, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Chief of Dermatology; Dermatologist; Harvey B. Ansell Professor of Dermatology and Chair, Tufts University School of Medicine; Associate Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Dermatology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-0156
Fax #: 617-636-9169

Skin cancer, atypical moles, acne, laser and cosmetic surgery

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