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If your hand eczema symptoms have been present for more than a few weeks and do not seem to be getting any better, you should seek treatment from your doctor. Because your hands are in constant use, it is much more difficult to treat hand eczema after it has been present for a while. Your skin will begin to thicken and harden in response to constant rubbing and scratching in much the same way that a callus forms on the bottom or side of a heel. This will make it more difficult for any medication to penetrate deeply enough to have a satisfactory effect. The likelihood of suffering from persistent and chronic hand eczema increases the longer the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated.
If your hand eczema has persisted for a long time or is unusually severe, the doctor may suggest that you be patch tested to determine if you are allergic to any of the chemicals and allergens you are exposed to on a daily basis at home or at work. Patch testing involves putting different substances on your skin to see how it reacts.
You may receive a prescription for a corticosteroid medication to put on your eczema. (Hint: It will soothe your itching better if you keep it in the refrigerator.) Use topical corticosteroids only as needed—that is, when your hand eczema is actively flaring. Prolonged use of these drugs can cause thinning of the skin, and there are other side effects to consider as well.
Perhaps your doctor will recommend a non-corticosteroid topical medication such as tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel). These agents are approved for use by adults and children two years of age or older, and they do avoid many of the side effects of corticosteroids. They should not be used long-term on sun-exposed portions of skin, like the backs of the hands; sunscreen must always be used.
Beyond that, clearing up your hand eczema depends largely on how you change your day-to-day habits. These changes may be difficult.