Explore This Clinic

Overview

Dermatologists at Massachusetts General Hospital's Contact Dermatitis & Occupational Dermatology Clinic specialize in diagnosing and treating even the most difficult-to-diagnose cases of dermatitis in both adults and children.

Most of our patients are referred to us by their primary care physicians or dermatologists. In about 70 percent of cases, we are able to pinpoint the relevant allergen(s).

Once their assessment is complete, our patients return to their referring physician with a full report of findings and recommendations. Our patch tests are designed to ensure the physician has the answers he or she needs to proceed with treatment or, if needed, further testing.

The Clinic That Dermatologists Trust

Over the past three decades, our clinic has earned a sterling reputation among dermatologists from all over the Greater Boston area. We see roughly 40 patients for specialty testing every month referred from physicians within New England.

Our physicians offer patients a full range of specialized, individually tailored patch tests. We specialize in the following conditions that result in skin inflammation:

  • Eczema that is not responsive to standard treatment
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Irritant contact dermatitis

Every patient at our clinic undergoes a thorough examination to investigate possible sources of the skin's irritation. The primary diagnostic tool we use is patch testing, a customized skin test that determines if a patient is allergic to certain chemicals or other allergens in commonly used items or products.

The test allows for precise identification and helps us formulate a customized plan and list of products the patient can use safely. The test also can also help identify those without allergy who need to go back to their main doctor for further testing.

What to Expect

We conduct weekly clinics in our offices. To schedule an appointment, call 617-726-2914. A physician referral is required for treatment.
We schedule visits for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

  • A complete assessment requires that patients attend the clinic all three days in the same week.
  • It is common to expect some mild itching from the test on the upper back.

Restrictions include :

  • Refrain from heavy lifting and vigorous physical activity.
  • Refrain from getting the back wet until the patch test series of visits is completed.

During the first visit, one of our physicians conducts a 30-minute interview with the patient.

  • We discuss the patient's type of work and medical history to uncover possible origins of the problem so that we can tailor the patch test accordingly.
  • We also ask the patient to bring along all of the products they use on their skin in the original packaging and review these at the initial visit.
  • After this discussion, the individualized tests are prepared and applied to the patient’s back. This process takes an additional 30–60 minutes.

On the second visit, we remove all tests and mark the patient’s back with a marker.

On Friday, the patient returns to the clinic and the final reading of the test is performed. After reviewing the final reading, we discuss the test results in detail, providing both information about the allergens and products to avoid. We also provide a list of topical products that should be safe for the patient to use.

Ongoing Research

Research is a critical component of our mission at Massachusetts General Hospital Contact Dermatitis and Occupational Dermatitis Clinic. Our clinic participates in ongoing attempts to identify new allergens as well as characterizing the most common allergens found for a given body site in adults and children.  Our research projects undergo a rigorous vetting process by the Partners HealthCare Institutional Review Board.

 

Contact Dermatitis and Patch Testing: What You Need to Know

In this video from Pediatric Dermatology, learn about contact dermatitis, including its symptoms and causes, and about patch testing for the condition