From Pimples to Moles: A Website About Dermatology

Hand Eczema: How It Affects Your Hands

Hand eczema, also known as hand dermatitis, can make using your hands difficult. This condition not only looks bad but can also cause pain and itchiness as well as other problems. While hand eczema can be chronic, it doesn't mean that you have to suffer from it. Your dermatologist can help with diagnosis and relief. Here is more information about hand eczema, its causes, and what treatments can reduce discomfort.

What Are Hand Eczema Symptoms?

Hand eczema can present itself in a number of ways. For most people, the condition causes rough, scaly patches on the tops of the hands, on the palms, or in between the fingers. Some people experience a red, bumpy rash. Others may experience joint pain, cracks in the skin, and pus. Skin may peel, and nail beds may become distorted.

What Causes Hand Eczema?

Hand eczema causes are not always clear, but most cases revolve around chemical irritants. Wearing gloves can protect you from those chemicals. But some gloves can cause your hands to sweat and existing eczema will worsen. Genetics can play a small role in that they can make you more susceptible to eczema but are usually not a direct cause. Some people may also get hand eczema from allergic contact.

How Does Hand Eczema Affect Hand Use?

Hand eczema can make hands stiff. You may experience pain or discomfort when opening and closing your fingers. Dirt, bacteria, viruses, and fungus can get into cracks and cause infections that could turn serious. For example, staphylococcus infections are not uncommon with severe hand eczema. There is even a chance of getting the herpes simplex virus through open cracks. All of these have an effect on hand strength and dexterity.

How Is Hand Eczema Diagnosed?

Your dermatologist will take a health history and perform a physical examination of your hands. In some cases, more tests are performed to rule out other skin problems. For example, ringworm mimics many of the same symptoms of eczema. Psoriasis can mimic severe eczema and requires a different treatment regimen.

What Treatments Are Available for Hand Eczema?

For mild cases, usually over-the-counter topical creams can help your hands feel better. Make sure you use greasy creams, such as petroleum jelly. Overly watery creams will not offer much relief. You can also use over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams. Those creams will help with itching as well. Special eczema-relieving creams are also available.

Hand eczema is uncomfortable, and sometimes it is difficult to determine its cause. If your eczema is persistent and you are not getting relief from other-the-counter creams, then contact a dermatologist. The dermatologist may make suggestions and prescribe something stronger to deal with your condition.