Our aim was to quantify and qualify the use of complementary medicine (CM) by patients referred to our contact dermatitis clinic in Leicester, UK. A face-to-face structured questionnaire study was made of 109 consecutive patients referred to the contact dermatitis clinic. 109 such questionnaires were completed. 21/109 (20%) of patients were Indo-Asian and 86/109 (79%) white Caucasian. 33/109 (30%) had tried some form of CM to treat their skin condition. This use was higher in the Indo-Asian group, where 13/21 (62%) had tried some form of CM. 21/33 (63%) who had used CM were happy to recommend it to other patients with skin disease, even though only 10/33 (30%) of these reported an improvement in their skin condition while using CM. The most frequently used CM treatments were herbal medicine [17/33 (51%)], Chinese herbal medicine [6/33 (18%)], traditional Indian medicine [4/33 (12%)] and aromatherapy [6/33 (18%)]. These proportions were similar in all ethnic groups. In a population of adults referred to a contact dermatitis clinic in a city-centre teaching-hospital dermatology department in Leicester, UK, 30% use, or intend to use, CM and this use is associated with ethnicity.