What is dyshidrotic eczema?
This common form of eczema causes small, intensely itchy blisters on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet. It is is twice as common in women as it is in men.
Stress, allergies (such as hay fever), moist hands and feet, and contact with nickel (in metal-plated jewelry), cobalt (found in metal-plated objects and in pigments used in paints and enamels), or chromium salts (used in the manufacturing of cement, mortar, leather, paints and anticorrosives) may be triggers of dyshidrotic eczema.
Because of the association with seasonal allergies, the dyshidrotic eczema blisters are known to erupt more frequently during the spring allergy season. The blisters may last up to three weeks before they begin to dry and can sometimes be large and painful. As the blisters dry, they may turn into skin cracks or cause the skin to feel thick and spongy, especially if you’ve been scratching the area.
Deep blisters on the sides of the feet are typical of dyshidrotic eczema
Doctors also may refer to dyshidrotic eczema as:
- Foot-and-hand eczema
- Vesicular eczema
- Palmoplantar eczema
There is no cure for dyshidrotic eczema, but the good news is, in many cases it’s manageable. And like all types of the condition, it isn’t contagious. You cannot “catch” dyshidrotic eczema from another person, or give it to someone else.
What does dyshidrotic eczema look like?
All types of eczema cause itching and redness. But some, like dyshidrotic eczema, look and act slightly different than others. You can have more than one type of eczema at a time, for example you can have dyshidrotic eczema and atopic dermatitis at once.
Some symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema:
- Small fluid-filled blisters on the fingers, hands, and feet
- Scaly, cracked skin
Dyshidrotic eczema blisters can be hard to see on the palms and fingers because the skin is thicker here
It’s important to understand which type of eczema you may have and also your symptoms and triggers, so that you can better treat and manage it. The only way to be sure that you have a form of eczema, including dyshidrotic eczema, is to make an appointment with your doctor.
Treatment for dyshidrotic eczema
At home treatment for dyshidrotic eczema includes soaking hands and feet in cool water or applying compresses to the affected area two to four times a day. This will help dry out the blisters and let the healing process begin.
Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid and a topical anesthetic like pramoxine to help with the itch and pain. Using a rich moisturizer or a skin barrier cream is also recommended.
How can I prevent dyshidrotic eczema?
There is no surefire way to prevent eczema, including dyshidrotic eczema. However, good skin care, and daily bathing and moisturizing can help strengthen your skin against irritation, so that it doesn’t flare up, or get worse. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent.
Favorite earrings got you feeling irritated?
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Some basic things you can do to help control your dyshidrotic eczema:
Dyshidrotic eczema appears as small, clear fluid-filled blisters on the sides of the fingers
- Learn your eczema triggers and avoid them
- Moisturize every day
- Wear soft, loose-clothing (like cotton) and avoid rough, scratchy fibers (like wool)
- Take lukewarm baths and showers, using mild soap or non-soap cleansers
- Gently pat your skin dry (don’t rub) with a soft towel
- Apply a moisturizer within three minutes after bathing to “lock in” moisture
- When possible, avoid rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat
- Use a humidifier in cold, dry weather
- Keep your fingernails short to help prevent scratching from breaking the skin
- If you have known allergic triggers, remove carpets from your house and give your pets dander treatments
Learn more about how to control and treat your eczema.