Hand Dermatitis

ExitCare ImageHand dermatitis (dyshidrotic eczema) is a skin condition in which small, itchy, raised dots or fluid-filled blisters form over the palms of the hands. Outbreaks of hand dermatitis can last 3 to 4 weeks.

CAUSES

The cause of hand dermatitis is unknown. However, it occurs most often in patients with a history of allergies such as:

  • Hay fever.

  • Allergic asthma.

  • Allergies to latex.

Chemical exposure, injuries, and environmental irritants can make hand dermatitis worse. Washing your hands too frequently can remove natural oils, which can dry out the skin and contribute to outbreaks of hand dermatitis.

SYMPTOMS

The most common symptom of hand dermatitis is intense itching. Cracks or grooves (fissures) on the fingers can also develop. Affected areas can be painful, especially areas where large blisters have formed.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver can usually tell what the problem is by doing a physical exam.

PREVENTION

  • Avoid excessive hand washing.

  • Avoid the use of harsh chemicals.

  • Wear protective gloves when handling products that can irritate your skin.

TREATMENT

Steroid creams and ointments, such as over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream, can reduce inflammation and improve moisture retention. These should be applied at least 2 to 4 times per day. Your caregiver may ask you to use a stronger prescription steroid cream to help speed the healing of blistered and cracked skin. In severe cases, oral steroid medicine may be needed. If you have an infection, antibiotics may be needed. Your caregiver may also prescribe antihistamines. These medicines help reduce itching.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines as directed by your caregiver.

  • You may use wet or cold compresses. This can help:

  • Alleviate itching.

  • Increase the effectiveness of topical creams.

  • Minimize blisters.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • The rash is not better after 1 week of treatment.

  • Signs of infection develop, such as redness, tenderness, or yellowish-white fluid (pus).

  • The rash is spreading.