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Hand and Foot Eczema Treatments (Dyshidrotic)
There are many terms used to describe hand-and-foot eczema - Dyshidrotic eczema, the term pompholyx, a Greek word meaning "bubble" is the term used to define deeply imbedded itching blisters. Cheiropompholyx which appears as intensely itching blisters on the hands and fingers, Pedopompholyx which is very intense itching blisters affecting the soles of the feet. Eczema of the hands and feet may also be called keratolysis exfoliativa, or vesicular eczema. The original theory that dyshidrotic eczema was the result of a sweat gland dysfunction has been disputed because the types of lesions which form are not associated with excessive sweating.
Hand eczema, which occurs slightly more often in women, begins as very itchy small bumps that appear along the sides of the fingers and then develops into a rash. There are many symptoms of hand eczema. You may experience itching, scaling patches of skin that become dry and flake constantly. You may experience redness, cracked, painful hands. In some cases, the rash worsens into weeping or oozing bumps.
Dyshidrotic eczema symptoms include small itchy blisters or bubbles along the side of the fingers and the palms of the hands. The same symptoms can appear on the feet and the toes. The later-stage symptoms consist of increased cracking and peeling of the skin, oozing of the blisters, crusting when the skin is dry. This may be accompanied by burning and pain especially when walking or moving of the fingers or toes.
In 80% of patients who suffer from dyshidrotic eczema, only the hands are affected. In 10%, only the feet are affected and in the remaining 10%, both hands and feet are involved. Flares of dyshidrotic eczema can occur as often as once a month and may last for weeks at a time.
Causes of Hand and Foot Eczema (Dyshidrotic)
There are many factors that can contribute to dyshidrotic eczema including:
Fungal infection - In some patients, a distant fungal infection may result in symptoms of hand eczema.
Colds and allergies - Dyshidrotic eczema is sometimes associated with skin conditions resulting from colds and allergies. Of the people with hand or foot eczema as many as one half of them also experience atopic eczema.
Diet - A small percentage of individuals with hand and foot eczema have noted flares in their condition after ingesting metal salts, specifically cobalt, chromium, or nickel. Diets that eliminate these metal salts may help in some cases.
Emotional stress - Dyshidrotic eczema often appears during times of stress, anxiety, or worry.
Genetic predisposition - Dyshidrotic eczema tends to run in families.
Recent exposure to contact allergens (e.g., nickel, lactones, balsams, fragrances, cobalt, ink, dye, chemicals) prior to a condition flare
Exposure to contact irritants before condition flares
Recent exposure to costume jewelry in patients with hand eczema who are allergic to nickel
Deodorant soaps, harsh cleansers and strong detergents
Rubber or latex gloves next to the skin. When wearing latex or rubber gloves, be sure to wear a cotton liner under them.
Symptoms of Dyshidrotic Eczema
Dyshidrotic eczema is characterized by the sudden onset (1-3 days) of deep-seated, clear blisters on the hands specifically on the palms and/or sides of fingers and/or on the feet on the soles and/or sides of the toes. The blisters are often accompanied or precluded by a burning feeling or itching. In the later stages, there is more peeling, cracking, or crusting of the skin along with scaling, thickening, and painful fissuring typically occurring. With long-standing disease, some sufferers' fingernails may reveal dystrophic changes (e.g. irregular transverse ridging, pitting, thickening, discoloration). Occasionally secondary infection involving staphylococcus bacteria may occur during a flare up, resulting in pain, redness, swelling, and crusting or pustules.
Controlling Dyshidrotic Eczema
Once someone has suffered an episode of hand eczema, the risk of having another one increases greatly. For some people, hand eczema becomes chronic. Clearing up hand eczema depends largely on how a sufferer changes daily lifestyle routines.
Approach your eczema treatment understanding that past failures in treating your skin do not have to be repeated. Let go of what hasn’t worked for you and let go of the belief that because one treatment didn’t work, neither will any other treatment. Examine your current treatment regimen and discard what didn’t work, let it go and move on.
Identify the things that make your skin react and if possible avoid them and if that trigger or allergen can’t be avoided, then find ways to minimize the impact. If your hands are dry and blistered because in your profession you have to wash your hands frequently, you may not be able to avoid washing your hands but you can minimize the impact by keeping your body well hydrated which will increase the moisture to the skin, and before and after work, apply a protective, healing oil to the skin such as Jojoba Oil and cover the hands with cotton gloves to help seal in the moisture.
Be alert to what you actually wash your hands with, hand sanitizer will dry your skin and in many studies has been shown to actually cause more germ resistance thereby being totally ineffective in its intended purpose. Avoid soaps with lanolin as this can be very irritating to many people, avoid deodorant and highly fragranced soaps as these additional ingredients are often culprits in eczema flares.
The following tips are useful for controlling dyshidrotic eczema:
- Simply wash the affected area using warm water and fragrance-free cleanser such as Neutrogena (the transparent facial bar) "dry skin formula - fragrance free" is very good option as is the Dove 'Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar'.
- Dry hands after washing them by blotting them dry gently and immediately apply a moisturizer. Jojoba oil (100% natural) is very good to use.
- Use oral antihistamines such as Benadryl to help ease the itching.
- Avoid using hand sanitizers or antibacterial hand cleansers as they contain alcohol, solvents, fragrances and other ingredients that can dry and further irritate the skin.
- Use cotton gloves to protect your hands while doing dry chores. Wash the gloves regularly to keep them clean. When performing wet chores, use cotton gloves and then cover them with powder-free, unlined neoprene or vinyl gloves. The Latex in rubber gloves is a common source of atopic eczema. Afterward, launder reusable gloves inside and out and allow them to dry thoroughly before reusing.
- Wear vinyl gloves when peeling or handling potatoes, meat, peppers, onions, tomatoes, citrus fruits and. Dispose of the gloves when finished. If water gets in the glove, remove it immediately.
- Wear waterproof gloves for no more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. If it is necessary to wear waterproof gloves for longer than that, apply a drop or two of jojoba oil to the hands before putting on the gloves.
- Remove rings when doing housework tasks, or before washing your hands. To reduce irritation, clean rings regularly by soaking them overnight in a mixture of one tablespoon of ammonia added to sixteen ounces of water. Rinse and dry the rings thoroughly prior to wearing.
- Do not wash laundry or dishes by hand. Detergents can be a source of skin irritation. If dishes must be washed by hand, wash them under running water. Use a long-handled scrubber to reduce damage and irritation to the hands from hot water.
- When working outdoors, wear thick fabric or unlined leather gloves to protect the hands. Leather gloves will also provide protection in windy, dry, or cool weather. Avoid wool as it may be a source of irritation.
- Apply Eczema-Ltd III patented topical skin conditioner disks to the affected areas.
- Avoid hands creams and moisturizers containing the following ingredients: Lanolin, methylisothiazolinone, methyldibromoglutaronitrile, phenoxyethanol methylchloroisothiazolinone, Botanicals (can cause allergic reactions, even if they are natural), Fragrances, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol (Bronopol), Propylene glycol, Formaldehyde (Formalin, Formol, Methanal, Veracur, etc.), Formaldehyde releasers, Diazolidinyl urea (Germaben II or Germal II), 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol (Bronopol), Imidazolidinyl urea, Citric or fruit acids, and Retinol or vitamin A.
If contact with chemicals, ink, dye or solvents in the workplace is causing dyshidrotic eczema your doctor can help you determine which or what irritating chemicals or work practices are contributing to this condition. In addition to modifying those risks, many of the same hand-protective strategies listed above can be helpful.