A survey of patients attending an occupational dermatology clinic with suspected occupational contact dermatitis affecting the hands was undertaken to determine if optimal skin care treatment had been instituted prior to referral for patch testing. Appropriate treatment for contact dermatitis of the hands was defined as concurrent use of a soap substitute, use of a lipid-rich moisturizer, and if appropriate, use of a topical corticosteroid in an ointment vehicle. Patients were asked about the use of a particular soap substitute, the name and type of any moisturizer used and the name and type of topical corticosteroids currently used. The products were examined where possible. Only one-third of all patients were using the complete package at the time of their clinic appointment. Nearly all of these patients had seen a dermatologist prior to this appointment. Of the group of patients with work-related diseases who reported having seen a dermatologist prior to the clinic appointment, only 38% were using the complete skin care routine.