Handling Hand Eczema: Tips from the NEA Community

hand eczema

By National Eczema Association

Published On: Aug 23, 2017

Last Updated On: Mar 15, 2021

NEA community members tell how they deal with their hand eczema.*

Soaking helps heal hand eczema

I found this address on a website and thought a suggestion I have may help people struggling with hand eczema. I have used Alpha Keri bath oil for years. It totally relieves the burning and itching . . . soothes and takes the red out. It has been a lifesaver as I have had eczema since my early 20s. A dermatologist suggested the bath oil. My hands were in horrible shape the first time I had an appointment. He soaked my hands in this and immediately I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven! It may not work for everyone, but using it along with Cortaid has worked for me for years. I work with babies so my hands are wet all of the time. I’m not able to use the Alpha Keri creams for some reason. They don’t help me at all. I just wanted to suggest this as I am living proof that it works… I keep it with me wherever I go!

– Lanie J.

Leather gloves cause flare-ups

I work my horses daily and have always used gloves for protection. However, I have found that wearing unlined leather gloves (which I always used previously) drives my hands crazy. The eczema problem FLARES really badly. The tanning process has a lot of chemicals, which I would assume is the problem. I have quit using leather totally. This has lessened the problem, but I still have some eczema in palm of my right hand.

I hope this helps someone who has a problem as I do with my hands.

– Marie F.

Daily routine of soaking and gloves

A few months ago, my hands were so bad that I was practically disabled. There aren’t many things in life that you can do without using your hands. So I went to a dermatologist again (my fifth one since getting severe eczema seven years ago), and this time the results were different. This is what my doctor told me to do:

I soaked my hands in one quart of water mixed with four capfuls of a coal tar shampoo for a half hour EVERY night for six weeks. After soaking, I would rinse and pat my hands dry, and then I would apply a steroid ointment and cover my hands with white cotton gloves. I also used a steroid cream twice a day.

At first I was discouraged. I had tried steroids before, and my hands would get better for a couple days and then get worse again. This time they got worse for the first few days and then they gradually got better. It has been almost two months since I finished my treatment and my hands are still perfect! Now the only thing I use is an OTC cream a couple times a day.

I feel so blessed to have gone to this doctor! I thought that I would pass this information on to you so that maybe others can get some relief from this treatment.

– D.U.

Bag Balm soothes and heals

My husband has had hand eczema for many years. His hands crack and bleed. He has tried Elidel and is currently using Cortisol. I recently bought something called Bag Balm, which is lanolin and petroleum jelly. It has been around since the 1800s. Farmers used to put it on their cow’s udders. When the wives noticed their husband’s hands getting so soft, they started using it too!! Anyway, my husband is using the Bag Balm every night before bed, and he is having significant luck with it soothing and healing his dried, cracked hands.

– Teena D.

Petroleum jelly worked in a week

I just wanted to thank you for your excellent website. I had severe eczema on my hands and fingers for months. I tried several creams and lotions, and nothing worked. I even researched eczema on the Internet and all the sites just said to use creams and lotions and cortisone. Only after finding the NEA website did I see the warning to avoid lotions in a pump and to try using petroleum jelly instead. That did the trick, and I started seeing results in less than a week! My hands finally look normal again, and I couldn’t be happier!

Thank you again for your informative website.

– David P.

Gloves for cleaning tasks

I have found great gloves for my hand eczema. I use Mr. Clean Nyplex Gloves. They are latex free and hypoallergenic. Best of all, the cotton lining is really quite plush! I order directly from the company, which gives a discount for orders over 24. I hope this helps other hand eczema sufferers. My wife and I work in the cleaning industry and it is really important that I protect my hands as best I can.

– Bob S.

Discovered compound

I was first diagnosed with eczema when I was pregnant with my daughter 23 years ago. She was diagnosed with eczema when she was a baby. Her eczema is mostly on her feet, legs, and hands. I have hand eczema which is exacerbated by frequent hand washing. I’m a registered nurse. After much trial and error, I have discovered a compound which has worked wonders to control our outbreaks. We’ve used the treatment for several years and are still very pleased with the results. I learned that creams work much better than ointments in controlling our symptoms. I also learned that eating yogurt every day helps to control my symptoms. I mix this compound at home using a digital kitchen scale.

Treatment for my hand eczema:

15 grams Fluocinonide CREAM, 0.05%
15 grams Bactroban CREAM
4 oz. Avon Silicone Glove hand cream (contains dimethicone)

Mix well and store in ointment jars. I keep a small one in my purse and another larger one at home.

Directions: Apply as needed to control symptoms.

Most days I will only apply it once. On days when I feel that an outbreak is threatening, I will apply it 2 or 3 times within an hour to stop or minimize the outbreak. If I can keep myself from scratching when the outbreak is eminent, then the treatment is usually more effective. Please note that the amount of steroid that I use is significantly lessened because it’s diluted in the hand cream.

Treatment for my daughter’s eczema:

15 grams Halcinonide CREAM, 0.1%
15 grams Bactroban
1 capsule Evening Primrose Oil
1 capsule Vitamin E
4 oz. Avon Silicone Glove

Note: Puncture the capsules with a needle and squeeze the oil out.

Directions: Apply as needed. She usually applies it once or twice daily. The steroid in her cream is much stronger.

I take generic Claritin every day. My daughter has found that Zyrtec every day works better for her.

Hopefully others can benefit from this.


– Jill McDaniel, RN

Corticosteroids, including topical corticosteroids (TCS), are associated with a potentially serious condition called Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW). TSW is thought to be rare but can be debilitating for some patients. It may not be recognized by all health professionals as clear diagnostic criteria do not yet exist. Learn more about TSW and appropriate use of TCS.

*The recommendations contained in the Scratch Pad are those of the contributor.  NEA provides health information from a variety of sources; this information is not intended as medical advice.  Persons with questions regarding specific symptoms or treatments should consult a professional health-care provider. Do you have eczema-related advice?  Share your tips on our Scratch Pad!

Read: What is hand eczema and how do you know if you have it?

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