Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is Dyshidrotic Eczema?
This is a medical skin condition that affects your feet and hands. It is not a contagious skin condition but it will often recur. It can happen once a month to once every twelve months. Many times this medical skin condition will appear during certain times of the year. Dyshidrotic eczema can become a chronic medical skin condition. It is often called vesicular eczema, dyshidrosis, acute vesiculobullous hand eczema, cheiropompholyx, or pompholyx.
This particular form of eczema affects both females and males equally. Most cases of dyshidrotic eczema occur in any age group but average age is thirty-eight years old. One in five thousand people in the United States have this type of eczema. What makes this type of eczema different from other forms of eczema is that with dyshidrotic eczema the skin eruptions are exclusively present on the sides of your fingers, the sole of your feet, and the palm of your hands.
Dyshidrotic Eczema Symptoms
The main symptom is the small itchy fluid filled blisters that are one millimeter or less in diameter. They are opaque in color, deep seated, and are either slightly raised or flush with your skin. In times these small blisters will group together to form a larger blister. Sometimes this is not the first symptom but before the blisters appear you could have a burning pain where the blisters are getting ready to form.
Other symptoms can include:
- Having a burning sensation
- Severe dryness
- Having problems with your fingernails
- Nail infections
- When the blisters burst there is cracking and peeling of the skin where the blisters were.
- There may be pain
Sometimes there are no symptoms at all. In advance cases you may notice a thickening of the skin along with other changes in your skin that could be caused by you scratching the area. Although the blisters do not break easily like a regular blister if you scratch them they can burst open. When they break open the clear fluid that is released can cause your skin to crust over.
Causes of Dyshidrotic Eczema
The exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema is not known because the word dyshidrotic means “bad sweating” it was thought at one time that this type of eczema was a disorder of the sweat gland. This was found to not be true because many people who have dyshidrotic eczema do not experience sweating that is excessive. In addition, the fluid that is found in the blisters is serum, a liquid that comes from your blood vessels and is not sweat.
Although the exact cause is not known there are some risk factors that can trigger dyshidrotic eczema can include:
- Excessive sweating in some people
- Water that is chlorinated
- Allergic reaction to a variety of things like medication, food, environmental factors, etc.
- In some cases, exposure to fruit juice, soap, raw meat, or detergents
- Allergies to alcohol, foods that have a high nickel count, dust mites, caffeine.
- Genetic factors
- Sudden changes in the climate
- Wearing jewelry made from allergenic metals.
- Your hands and/or feet are often moist or wet
When seeing your physician they will do a medical examination, take your medical history, and ask what symptoms, if any, that you are experiencing. Many times it can be recognized by the sudden onset of blisters and where they are located. To rule out any other medical skin conditions like a fungal infection the physician may have a skin biopsy done.
The main treatment for dyshidrotic eczema is using corticosteroid ointments and creams but there are other treatments too. When using a corticosteroid treatment they are usually a high potency treatment that will help improve the appearance of your blisters plus help to make them disappear quicker. Because the blisters and surrounding areas itch, to help not scratch you can wear gloves.
If it is caused by one of the triggers that are suspected to cause a breakout of dyshidrotic eczema it can be treated often with dietary changes and stress counseling. Make sure that you keep your nails short and try to avoid scratching them as it can lead to a secondary infection.
For the symptoms they can be treated with topical remedies like:
- Aloe Vera
- Lavender oil
- Plantain oil preparation
- Anti-itch medications that are taken by mouth like Claritin, or Benadryl,
- Anti-itch creams
Sometimes the physician will prescribe treating it with eczema medications, ointments, and creams, topical steroids, botulinum toxin injections, ciclosporin, or phototherapy light treatment. One important thing to remember is that you should take care not to use hand sanitizing products, any soap with the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate, any scented bubble bath, or scented soaps, and applications that are water-based. You should also wash the area in warm or cool water, never hot water. To help with the healing if you skin has cracked open you can use Band-Aid brand liquid bandage.
Dyshidrotic Eczema Pictures
- Soaking the areas in salt water or a white vinegar soak. This will help to relieve the scaling, itching and dryness. You should soak them two times a day for thirty to forty minutes each time.
- Cold or wet compress can help relieve itching and increase the effectiveness of any treatment being used.
- Use a light moisturizer regularly
- Take an oatmeal bath
- Apply coconut or flaxseed oil to the areas affected to help soften and smooth your skin.
- Sunbath for a short period of time
No matter if you leave them alone to heal on their own, use a natural treatment, or see your physician for treatment, it can take weeks, even months for them to heal.