Dyshidrotic Eczema Pt 1

See also: Dyshidrotic Eczema Pt 2.

Do you ever wonder what type of eczema you have?

Trying to determine what kind of eczema you have can be difficult. To make things more difficult many forms of eczema have more than one name.

Take Dyshidrotic Eczema for example. It is also known as vesicular eczema, hand and foot eczema, housewives eczema and pompholyx. All names refer to exactly the same condition so signs and symptoms will all be the same as of course will be the treatment.

Dyshidrotic eczema is a recurrent skin reaction affecting the hands and feet. More specifically the palms and soles and the sides of the fingers and toes. The condition results in decreased use of the hands.

The cause of dyshidrotic eczema is unknown however there are several theories. One being the result of abnormal sweating. The condition is sometimes atopic in nature meaning there is an allergic disposition. For others it is triggered by contact with a substance causing the allergic reaction.

Usual Onset Before Age 40

Both men and women are affected by dyshidrotic eczema and its onset usually occurs before the age of 40 years. As in general eczema the condition usually runs in families.

Typically there are two phases of dyshidrotic eczema. Firstly the acute phase which usually has a sudden onset of 1 – 3 days. Itchy bumps develop into small clear fluid filled blisters called vessicles. A rash may also develop. The main complaint is a burning sensation and intense itching.

The other phase is known as the chronic phase where the excessive itching causes skin changes resulting in the thickening of the skin. The skin will also become red, scaly and cracked. Larger blisters will cause pain.

The condition is usually diagnosed on its appearance however occasionally a skin biopsy or skin scraping may be necessary to rule out other causes. Your doctor will order these if required.

The traditional and most accepted treatment of this condition is with strong topical corticosteroids. Plastic wrapping to hold in moisture may also be required in the chronic stage.

If severe oral or intra muscular corticosteroids may be required along with antihistamines to decrease the itching. Antibiotics will be required when secondary infection occurs.

Other treatment involves keeping the skin cool and using plenty of emollients to keep the skin soft. If possible the substance causing the allergy should be identified and removed. However this is not always as simple as it sounds.

To help prevent flare ups or worsening of the condition there are some common things to avoid:

Things To Avoid

  • prolonged contact with water
  • deodorant soaps
  • strong detergents
  • solvents
  • stressful situations
  • rubber and latex gloves (wear cotton liners if gloves must be worn or if hands must go in water regularly)
  • scratching

Although there is no known quick cure, dyshidrotic eczema does usually resolve with out problems. Excessive scratching can however lead to skin trauma causing thick irritated skin. This is often more difficult to treat and has a longer healing time than the actual condition.

Mel’s treatment recommendations

When treating eczema of the hands or feet I recommend soaking your hands/feet in a tub of warm water with a few drops of bath oil added to the water. It is important not to have the water too hot as although this may offer temporary relief to the itching it will increase the skin irritation worsening the inflammation and itch in the long run.

Soak the hands/feet for 15 – 20 minutes at the end of each day and then gently pat dry. Apply your emollient immediately after. It is at this time that the skin is at its softest and moistest. The cream will have its greatest benefit at this time.

Check that your emollient can be applied several times throughout the day and if possible the soaking can be done morning and night. Although it is the evening time when you can sit and relax after and let your hands/feet relax and reap the benefits of the treatment that it is most effective.

Grahams Bath Oil and Calendulis Plus Cream are ideal for this sort of treatment.

Mel Sinclair, RN