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How to prevent hand rashes

Tips for getting a handle on one of eczema’s most annoying symptom areas—the hands.

How to prevent hand rashes

Our hands are among the worst body parts to develop an eczema rash, hands down (excuse the pun) because we rely on them so heavily to perform basic everyday tasks.

Itchy, painful rashes are more distracting and seem to take longer to heal when they develop on our hands. That’s why it’s important to pamper our fingers and palms, and take the appropriate steps to prevent a rash from forming, said Melissa Piliang, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

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“There are many reasons for hand rashes,” Piliang said. “The most common cause is eczema, but some hand rashes may have an allergic cause. Sometimes an allergy can develop after years of touching the same things daily without a problem, like your wedding ring, skin care products or foods such as fish, garlic or citrus fruits.

“Thousands of things can cause a hand rash, yet most hand rashes look a lot alike to the untrained eye,” Piliang added. “If you get a hand rash, see a board-certified dermatologist to help identify the cause and prevent it from becoming painful or disabling.”

If a dermatologist suspects an allergic reaction is the cause of the hand rash, he or she might recommend an allergy skin test called patch testing. Common treatments for hand rashes range from an over-the-counter cream or lotion to a doctor-prescribed medication.

To prevent a hand rash from developing, Piliang offers the following four tips:

Four tips for preventing a hand rash

  • Wear task-appropriate, protective gloves. Harsh chemicals, such as dyes and detergents, and even water can irritate your skin and cause a hand rash. To protect your hands, wear gloves while gardening or doing housework. Remember to replace gloves that develop a hole, and never wear wet gloves.
  • Wear warm gloves in cold temperatures. Cold weather can be very drying to your hands, making it a good idea to wear warm, insulated gloves or mittens outdoors.
  • Wash your hands without irritating them. Since soap and water can remove oils from your skin, wash your hands with warm water and a mild cleanser, such as a beauty bar or moisturizing liquid.
  • Apply moisturizer often and generously. Apply it immediately after washing your hands and multiple times throughout the day. For the best results, use a product that contains glycerin or petrolatum.

For more tips, check out this “How to prevent and treat hand rashes” video sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The AAD offers a “Video of the Month” series that offers tips for how to properly care for your skin, hair and nails.

Read: The Basics of Eczema

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