The American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS) is an organization that was founded in 1989 to develop, promote, and support initiatives in the field of contact dermatitis and occupational skin disease. Its members include a wide range of healthcare professionals dedicated to improving education, patient care, and research in the field of contact dermatitis. Dermatologists, allergists, physicians, researchers, nurses, and physician assistants work together through the society to provide mentorship, information, and practical tools for a wide range of needs from information about novel allergens and best practices in patient education to technical aspects of patch testing (the tool to detect allergic contact dermatitis).
Allergic contact dermatitis is a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction, which is characterized by a complex immunological cascade. Providers that incorporate patch testing into their practices are successful when they have an education-centered treatment focus. Identification of a relevant allergen by patch testing warrants the prescription of avoidance measures. If these measures are implemented appropriately, then most patients will improve. The unique practice of contact dermatitis within dermatology with its high procedural–technical skill level and need for extensive patient education lends itself well to a team approach with regard to providing healthcare. These teams are often made up of medical doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, medical assistants, and physician assistants, and in training programs, dermatology residents and fellows, each with critical roles.
One of the strengths of the ACDS is educational support, and on this 25th anniversary year of our organization, we embraced the initiative of fostering intersocietal relationships. For example, we implemented a second track during our annual meeting and established parallel interactive sessions to develop partnerships with the members of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology and National Eczema Association (to explore common interests in atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis) and members of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association. These outreach sessions proved to be valuable and underscored the need for our societies to continue to work together to foster support of our joint mission of providing excellent patient care and education in the field of contact dermatitis. We truly value the critical role of our nurses and the breadth of knowledge they bring to the team. To highlight this partnership, we developed what we hope will be an ongoing educational series titled “Tools of the Trade.” The initial articles in this series discuss topics in contact dermatitis and are brought to the readers of the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association by different physician–nursing (ACDS–Dermatology Nurses’ Association) teams from across the country. It is our hope that these teams will be recognized as national resources, encourage others to participate, and continue to build this resource.