Quality of life (QoL) assessment has rapidly become an important outcome variable in dermatology research. Even though the importance of the patient's personal morbidity is generally accepted as being important by dermatologists, scepticism and confusion remain about the usefulness of QoL in dermatological research and how it should be measured. QoL assessments in individuals with contact dermatitis are few. A structured review of the literature is presented. All studies reviewed found that contact dermatitis is associated with impaired health-related QoL. Hand eczema appears to be as equally impairing as generalized eczema and an early, confirmed diagnosis is associated with improved QoL. Disease duration, atopic dermatitis, age and gender do not seem to have a major impact on QoL, although contradictory findings exist. Assessment of QoL in contact dermatitis is required for future clinical research and may be a valuable tool to the clinician to evaluate new treatments. A combination of dermatology-specific (e.g. Dermatology Life Quality Index) and generic questionnaires (e.g. the Short Form-36) is supported.