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What is Dyshidrotic eczema? Symptoms and causes

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Dyshidrotic eczema, also known as pompholyx or dyshidrotic dermatitis, is a long-term skin condition that affects the hands or feet.

Pompholyx tends to run in families and can affect people for many years. This article explains what the main symptoms are, the possible triggers and causes, and how to treat dyshidrotic eczema.

Dyshidrotic eczema symptoms

The first symptom that is easy to identify is an itching or burning sensation in the affected area, without necessarily having any visual clues.

Due to their appearance, blisters on the hand are easy to identify and they usually develop around the palms and on the sides of the fingers. The blisters are fluid-filled and they can become really itchy and they might leak fluid.

Pompholyx can also affect the toes and soles of the feet. The blisters appear as small, individual bumps on fingers, or they grow together and cover a large area of your hands or feet. They usually last around three to four weeks.

Touching the area of dyshidrotic eczema can be painful and can also lead to infection in the area around it.

Causes of dyshidrotic eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema causes vary as our hands are one of the most used body areas and are regularly exposed to different objects each day, from cosmetics to cleaning products and tough or hard surfaces. Read more about dry skin on the hands.

Eczema flare-up
Eczema flare-ups make the skin to be itchy, red and inflamed

Here we outline the most common causes of dyshidrotic eczema so you can reduce your chances of a flare-up.

  • Irritation - is usually caused due to the skin coming in contact with chemicals or allergens. It’s important to be careful when you handle chemicals - read the packaging carefully and follow the instructions. Studies have also shown that food with nickel may cause dyshidrotic eczema.
    Chemicals that can cause dyshidrotic eczema when handled include detergents, solvents, nickel sulfate. In the case of irritation, contact dermatitis might be the issue. Learn more about contact dermatitis here.

    Learn more about what causes irritated skin and how to treat it.

  • Medication can also be a reason and may cause reactions in your body that result in blistering. 
  • Medical conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, are another common cause.
  • Friction is caused by a repetitive action or when your skin rubs against an object. This leads to the separation of the epidermal layer, which causes fluid-filled blisters.
  • Cold air can also lead to dyshidrotic eczema, mainly on your fingers and palms. Small blisters on fingers and palms usually happen after exposure to the cold for many hours.

Dyshidrotic eczema treatment

Pompholyx on the hands is a long-term condition that comes and goes. Getting treatment will help you control the symptoms, and ensure you’re prepared for the next bout of dyshidrosis.

Treating dyshidrosis depends on how severe it is. Usually, a doctor will prescribe a steroid cream or an ointment to soothe swelling and heal blisters. Our AtoControl Acute Care Cream can soothe dyshidrotic eczema flare ups on hands and body along with your doctor’s medical treatment. The cream relieves itchy skin, reducing the need to scratch while it soothes irritation and redness.

The cream for dyshidrotic eczema contains a unique active ingredient complex of soothing Licochalcone A, anti-bacterial Decanediol, and anti-itching and cooling Methoxypropandiol (MPD). This, along with a high concentration of Ceramides, strengthens the skin’s barrier and relieves itchiness.

Hand cream
Hand moisturisers are used against dry skin of dyshidrotic eczema

For mild flare-ups of eczema, dermatologists usually recommend:

  • A moisturiser to relieve the skin’s dryness
  • A calcineurin cream which reduces inflammation
  • Plasters to reduce the pain
  • Anti-itch medication in the form of a cream or pill

Dermatologists usually recommend:

  • Do not pop the blister - popping blisters can cause infections
  • Avoid the use of soaps and detergents - try to wash your hands with lukewarm water and soap-free cleansers
  • Clean the area 

If the case is more severe, the best dyshidrosis treatments that dermatologists suggest are:

  • Moisturisers that should be used every day to moisturise the skin
  • Steroid creams and ointments to reduce irritation and soreness - this is necessary to avoid any contact with the blister and not worsen the condition.

After the blisters on the hands go and the pompholyx is healed, the skin might be dry, cracked and sore. Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm is clinically proven to repair dry to very dry, cracked or irritated skin.

This balm creates a protective barrier over the skin that supports the natural transfer of water vapour and oxygen to and from the skin. It allows the skin to breathe and strengthens its natural protective barrier. This contains Glycerin and Panthenol. Glycerin is an effective moisturiser that attracts water and keeps it to the skin. Panthenol helps the regeneration and the repair of the skin, while it also moisturises it.

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