Everything You Need to Know About Hand Eczema
Having hand eczema can be a result of dyshidrotic eczema, another common type of eczema. It is also known as dyshidrosis and presents itself as blisters on a person’s hands. These blisters are commonly found on a person’s palm.
Eczema on hands can be quite irritating, given its location on an oft contacted part of the body. With blisters that can itch, fill with fluid, and last for up to a month, hand eczema can be quite uncomfortable.
Causes of Hand Eczema
Unfortunately, dermatologists have yet to nail down the exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema. Some recommend that this type of eczema is caused by allergies like hay fever. Others suggest that it is a result of stress. Other possible causes, such as constantly moist hands or consistent contact with metallics like cobalt, have also been suggested.
While unsightly, hand eczema is not communicable. Eczema on the hands cannot be contracted from someone who has it. It is more common in adults ages 20—40 but has been known to affect children as well. This is unusual because children who suffer from eczema usually outgrow it.
Symptoms of Hand Eczema
The most common symptom of eczema on hands is the development of blisters on the fingers, hands, or palms. The blisters often fill with fluid and can grow to be quite large and painful.
Blisters caused by dyshidrotic eczema are often itchy and cause the surrounding skin to flake or crack. It can take up to four weeks before drying out and is often very persistent. The scratching and cracking of the skin from being so dry can also cause long term discomfort.
It can be difficult to tell if your symptoms are caused by eczema, or a different skin ailment. Allergies and contact dermatitis can both present symptoms that are similar to dyshidrotic eczema. Since there are similarities between conditions, it is important that a doctor diagnoses whether your issue is caused by eczema on your hands, or something else.
There are tests that dermatologists frequently run to determine if a patient has dyshidrotic eczema. These tests can include biopsies, allergy tests, and other labs. These tests are beneficial as they can rule out eczema and identify other causes at the same time.
Treatment Options for Hand Eczema
Once a dermatologist has diagnosed dyshidrotic eczema, there are many treatment options that can be tested. Many variables impact an eczema treatment plan, including the severity of eczema or potential allergies. At times, patients will need to try multiple hand eczema treatments before determining which one works best.
Dermatologists often prescribe medication to treat dyshidrotic eczema. These range from mild creams to ingestible medications. Each case is different in scope and severity. In some cases, a strong steroid is used to attempt to calm the inflammation related to eczema on a patient’s hands.
The excessive scratching and open sores on the hands can cause infection to occur. Dermatologists watch for this and will prescribe antibiotics to battle an infection that arises due to eczema.
The most serious cases of dyshidrotic eczema require advanced prescriptions that are immuno-suppressants. These ointments are used for very rare, serious cases that are unresponsive to other treatments.
Dermatologists do not only offer prescription medications to deal with hand eczema. Procedures like UV light treatments or draining larger blisters are not uncommon. These are often used to ease the symptoms associated with dyshidrotic eczema.
Home Remedies for Eczema
It is always advisable to see a dermatologist to determine the cause of any sores or blisters on your hands. However, once eczema has been diagnosed, many patients will seek options for soothing themselves at home. Dermatologists often recommend specific things to do that will be the most impactful and relieving.
Soaking your hands in water for 15 minutes can provide temporary relief of the itching that is commonly associated with hand eczema. This is often done by wrapping the hands in a soaked, cold cloth.
Heavy moisturizers, like Lubriderm, are frequently suggested for use after the compresses have come off. Eczema on hands frequently causes extremely dry skin and leads to itching. Moisturizer plays an important a role in reducing the itching sensation.
Prevention and Prognosis of Hand Eczema
With such limited information on the cause of eczema on hands, it is virtually impossible to determine how to prevent an outbreak. If you have been diagnosed with eczema or are prone to skin sensitivity, you should always monitor what your hands come in contact with.
The long-term prognosis for someone suffering from dyshidrotic eczema is unpredictable. It could resolve and never return, or it could flare up at random. The rate of healing from an outbreak is determined by many factors including the behaviors of the patient, and a prescribed treatment plan.
Unfortunately, even after healing from an outbreak, recurrence of hand eczema is possible. Dermatologists do not know the cause and have no prevention plan aside from taking steps to strengthen skin and live a generally healthy lifestyle.