Contact Dermatitis Center

Stephen Glinick, MD, Director


The Contact Dermatitis Center is based at Rhode Island Hospital. It acts as a referral center for the region to which patients are referred for evaluation of more complex cases of contact dermatitis and occupational skin disease.

The Center has specialized patch test panels containing over 300 allergens, a reference library, and access to computerized allergen replacement databases. Residents rotate through the center for 3 months and do the initial evaluations of all patients referred to the unit and interprets the patch tests alongside the attending physician. Didactic teaching in contact dermatitis is part of the residents’ educational experience.

The objectives for the residents participating in this rotation are:

  • Develop the technique of taking a careful occupational history relevant to industrial exposure.
  • Master the technique of applying and reading patch tests.
  • Develop familiarity with all of the allergens on the standard patch test tray, including sources of exposure, clinical relevance, cross-reactions, and methods of avoidance and appropriate substitutes for sensitive patients.
  • Develop familiarity with contact dermatitis related to specific occupations, e.g. hairdressers, food handlers, health care workers, jewelry trade, machinists, etc.
  • Develop an understanding of the basic science relating to contact dermatitis.
  • Develop the ability to use dermatologic databases and literature to research specific clinical problems in contact dermatitis.
  • Develop familiarity with the current literature on contact dermatitis.

The following methods are utilized in teaching residents:

  • Residents take histories and order patch tests and read tests on all patients referred to the clinic.  The resident is responsible for preparing records and dictating formal consultation reports to referring physician.  Since many referred patients require patch testing to non-standard allergens, the resident will do relevant research and interaction with factory, manufacturers, suppliers, etc.
  • Instruction in patch test techniques with clinic nurse.
  • Didactic lectures and board review sessions.
  • Review of standard textbooks such as “Fisher’s Contact Dermatitis.”
  • Review of relevant current literature in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and JAMA Dermatology during Journal Club.
  • Residents as a group write and periodically update the patient education brochures used in the contact dermatitis clinic.
  • Participation in clinical research or preparation of manuscripts if opportunity arises.
  • Attendance at the basic AAD course on patch testing is encouraged.
  • Practical experience is supplemented by lectures in contact dermatitis by Dr. Lionel Bercovitch and staff.