Dermatology Treatments : Probiotic Treatment of Eczema
How to Treat Hand Eczema
Eczema may cause pain and discomfort on any part of your body, but eczema on your hands can be even more of a problem. Whether your eczema is caused by an irritant, an allergen, or genetics, there are certain steps you can take to help treat it. One of the first things that you should do is see a doctor to make sure that what you are experiencing is eczema. Your doctor can also perform a test to determine what irritants or allergens may be causing your eczema. After the cause of your eczema is known, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid cream, antibiotics, cold compresses, and changes in the products you use on a daily basis. Keep reading to learn more about how to treat hand eczema.
Identifying Hand Eczema
Look for symptoms of hand eczema.Eczema on the hands and fingers is a common condition. If you suspect that you have some form of eczema, see a doctor to get your condition diagnosed and treated. You may have eczema if you notice any of the following symptoms on your hands or fingers:
- Extreme dryness
Determine if your eczema might be caused by irritants.Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common form of hand eczema. This form of eczema is caused by frequent and prolonged exposure to substances that irritate the skin. These irritating products may be almost anything that makes frequent contact with the skin, including cleaning agents, chemicals, food, metal, plastic, and even water. Symptoms of this type of eczema include:
- chapping and redness on the fingertips and in the webbed areas between your fingers
- stinging and burning when you make contact with irritants
Consider whether your eczema might be caused by an allergy.Some people suffer from a form of eczema called allergic contact dermatitis. In this case, the eczema is caused by an allergy to a substance such as a soap, dye, fragrance, rubber, or even a plant. Symptoms of this type of eczema are often concentrated on the inside of the hands and fingertips, but they can appear anywhere on the hands. Symptoms include:
- blistering, itchiness, swelling, and redness soon after exposure to the allergen
- crusting, scaling, and cracking of the skin
- darkening and/or thickening of the skin after prolonged exposure to the allergen
Determine if your hand eczema might have been caused by atopic dermatitis.Hand eczema caused by atopic dermatitis is more common in children than in adults, but adults can still suffer from this condition. If you have symptoms of eczema on other parts of your body as well as on your hands, atopic dermatitis might be causing your hand eczema. Symptoms of atopic dermatitis include:
- extreme itchiness that lasts for days or weeks
- thickening of the skin
- lesions on the skin
Treating Hand Eczema
See a doctor as soon as possible to get a diagnosis.Before you begin any sort of treatment, you should see a doctor to make sure that what you are experiencing is eczema and not something else, such as psoriasis or a fungal infection. Your doctor can help you decide on the best course of treatment and may even refer you to a specialist if your hand eczema is severe.
Ask your doctor about getting patch tested.To determine the cause of your eczema, your doctor can have your skin patch tested to check for possible allergies. If you suspect that your hand eczema might be caused by an allergen, talk to your doctor about getting patch tested. The results of the patch test will help you to know what substance or substances are causing your eczema so that you can avoid them.
- During the patch test, your doctor will apply a substance to a patch and apply the patch (or patches) to your skin to determine which ones are causing your eczema. The test itself will not hurt, but it may cause some pain and irritation due to the substances and how they react with your skin.
- Nickel is a common irritant that can cause eczema flare-ups. Patch-testing can check for a nickel allergy.
- It may also be helpful to compile a list of the products you use on or near your hands on a regular basis. This list may include soaps, moisturizers, cleaning products, and any special substances that you may come into contact as part of your work or home routines.
Consider using a 1% hydrocortisone ointment.Your doctor may recommend that you use a 1% hydrocortisone ointment to help treat your eczema. This ointment is available over the counter and by prescription. Ask your doctor for recommendations if you are not sure what to look for.
- Most hydrocortisone ointments are meant to be applied while skin is still damp, such as after a shower or after washing your hands. Make sure to follow the product instructions for the hydrocortisone ointment that your doctor recommends.
- Stronger topical corticosteroids may be needed in some cases as well, but will require a prescription from your doctor.
Use a cold compress to help reduce itchiness.Eczema often causes extreme itchiness, but it is important that you do not scratch your hands to relieve the itching. Scratching can cause eczema to get worse and you may also break the skin in the process, which can lead to infections. If your hands are itchy, use a cold compress to soothe them instead.
- To make a cold compress, wrap a hand towel or a paper towel around an ice pack or plastic bag filled with ice.
- You can also try keeping your nails trimmed and filed to help prevent yourself from scratching and making your eczema worse.
Consider taking oral antihistamines.In some cases, over the counter oral antihistamines can help treat occasional hand eczema. Keep in mind that these drugs may cause drowsiness, so you might not want to take them during the day or when you have lots of things to do. Ask your doctor if taking over the counter oral antihistamines might be a good solution to your hand eczema.
Ask your doctor if antibiotics might be needed.Eczema can sometimes cause infections due to the openings caused by blisters, cracks, and lesions on your skin. If your skin is red, hot, swollen, and/or painful or if it does not respond to eczema treatments, you might have an infection. Be sure to ask your doctor if you might need an antibiotic to treat an infection caused by your eczema.
- Do not take antibiotics unless your doctor prescribes them. Using antibiotics when they are not needed can make them less effective when you do need them.
- Take the full round of antibiotics that your doctor prescribes. Even if your infection seem to be cured, the infection may come back and be more difficult to treat if you do not take the full prescription.
Ask your doctor about prescription drugs.In some cases, hand eczema might not respond to over-the-counter topical creams and making lifestyle changes. In cases like these, your doctor may need to prescribe a systemic (rather than topical) corticosteroid or an immunosuppressant drug. These options should not be considered until you have tried to control your eczema by other means because the drugs may have negative side effects.
Talk to your doctor about a prescription topical immunomodulator.If your eczema does not respond to any of the other treatment options, you may consider talking to your doctor about a prescription topical immunomodulator cream. Elidel and Protopic are prescription creams that have been approved by the FDA to treat eczema. These drugs change the way that your immune system responds to certain substances, so they may help if nothing else works.
- These creams are usually safe, but may have severe side effects in rare cases, so they should be reserved as a last resort.
Ask your doctor about phototherapy.Some skin diseases, including eczema, respond well to phototherapy, or exposure to controlled ultraviolet light.It is best used after traditional topical approaches have failed, but before systemic approaches.
- The treatment is effective in 60-70% of patients, but may take several months of consistent treatment before improvement is seen.
Preventing Hand Eczema
Reduce exposure to eczema triggers.After your doctor performs a patch test, you should know what triggers are causing or intensifying your eczema. Do the best that you can to prevent any exposure to these triggers. Switch to a different type of household cleaner, ask someone else to handle the food that is causing your eczema, or wear gloves to create a barrier between your hands and the substance.
Choose soaps and moisturizers that are free of harsh perfumes and dyes.Eczema of the hands may also be caused by dyes and perfumes in soaps and moisturizers. Steer clear of any soaps and moisturizers that include artificial fragrances or colors. Look for products meant for sensitive skin or all natural products. If you know that a certain soap or moisturizer causes your eczema to flare up, do not use it.
- Consider using plain petroleum jelly in lieu of a moisturizer; it is less likely to cause a reaction and may even be more effective at moisturizing.
- Don’t wash your hands too frequently. While it is important to remove irritants from your hands if you are exposed, frequent hand washing may cause your eczema to get worse. Avoid washing your hands except when they are soiled.
Keep hands dry.Hands that are often wet or damp are at increased risk for hand eczema. If you spend a lot of time washing dishes by hand or doing other things that keep your hands wet, try to cut back on these activities or reduce hand wetness any way that you can.For example, you could use a dishwasher to wash dishes instead of hand washing them or at least wear gloves to keep your hands dry while you are washing dishes.
- Dry your hands immediately after washing them or getting them wet. Make sure that they are completely dry.
- Take shorter showers to reduce the amount of time that your hands are wet.
Moisturize your hands often.A good moisturizer is essential to preventing eczema flare-ups. Make sure that you use a moisturizer that does not irritate your skin. Ointments are usually the best options for hand eczema, they moisturize better and cause less stinging and burning when applied to irritated skin. Keep a small bottle of moisturizer with you at all times to make sure that your hands are always well moisturized. Moisturize your hands anytime that you wash them or whenever they begin to feel dry.
- You may want to ask your doctor about a prescription moisture barrier such as Tetrix.This can be far more effective than store-bought moisturizers.
Wear cotton lined gloves if your hands will be exposed to irritants or allergens.If you cannot avoid using chemicals and other substances that irritate your hands, get some cotton lined rubber gloves to protect your hands from exposure to these substances. Wear the gloves any time that you will be exposed to the substances that irritate your hand.
- Wash the gloves with perfume and dye free soap when they need it. Turn them inside out and hang them up to dry completely before using them again.
- If you need the gloves for both cleaning and cooking, make sure that you have separate pairs for these activities.
Remove rings when your hands may be exposed to irritants or allergens.Rings can cause substances that make your eczema worse to get trapped right next to your skin. As a result, you may have more flare ups in the areas under and around your rings. Try to remember to remove your rings before exposure to your triggers and before washing or moisturizing your hands.
Ask your doctor about using a bleach bath to treat the eczema on your hands.Using a highly diluted solution of bleach and water may help to reduce the amount of bacteria on your hands, which helps some people with their eczema. Of course, if bleach is an eczema trigger for you, then you should not try this treatment. Talk to your doctor before you decide to incorporate bleach hand soaks into your routine.
- Remember that the bleach you use in a hand soak should be diluted in plenty of water. Only use about 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water.
- Be careful not to get the bleach on your clothes, carpet, or anywhere else that it might harm the color.
Control stress.In some cases, eczema flare-ups may be caused or intensified by stress. To help eliminate this factor, make sure that you incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily life. Exercise daily and set aside some time each day to relax. Some relaxing activities you might try include practicing yoga, doing deep breathing exercises, or meditating.
QuestionIs eczema better covered or left open to the air?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's better to keep it uncovered as sweat buildup can cause it to worsen.Thanks!
QuestionWhat precautions need to be taken during summer and winter for eczema?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should constantly moisturize and try to be clean, as lots of dead skin and bacteria will not make it fun. Wear comfortable, non irritant clothing. Make sure your clothes are clean and breathable. Try not to scratch your skin at all. Sunburns will make the eczema worse and more painful, use sunblock. Wear gloves in winter and always moisturize your face and hands.Thanks!
QuestionWhat could I get my friend, who has eczema, for her birthday to help?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA nice hand cream and/or skin oils and cotton gloves would make a nice gift. The most important thing is not to judge her; this condition is not her fault. There are probably plenty of people in her life who tell her what she should be doing to make this condition go away. Don't be one of them! It is very hard to control. Thoughtful, positive support will mean a lot.Thanks!
QuestionCan latex rubber and talcum powders trigger eczema?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, especially if you get them wet or sweaty inside. Keep a pair of felt or cotton gloves to wear under rubber gloves, or buy lined gloves. Always remove them if the inside gets wet.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use an anti-fungus anti-bacterial solution for my eczema (hands)?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, as this will irritate your skin.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do for eczema if moisturizer is not working?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRefer to your doctor for antibiotic cream or pills.Thanks!
QuestionMy daughter is 12 years old and suffering from hand eczema. We have treated for about 2 years now and it's still not going away. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOther than avoiding triggers and doing things to lessen symptoms (moisturizing, using non-irritating soaps, etc.) there isn't really anything you can do. Provided you're taking her to the doctor regularly, other than that she will have to get used to doing things a little differently. This is about learning to try to relieve the symptoms. Another helpful thing is to teach her how to reduce and manage stress levels well.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are the little bubbles under the skin on my fingers?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's the clear stuff from your blood. It's like your body won't let you sweat, so the sweat gets trapped inside those bubbles.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I treat my eczema?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMix cocoa butter with coconut oil. Rub it on your eczema and leave it to set for five minutes.Thanks!
QuestionI've been having a lot of dead skin peeling off my hands for a while now. Is this part of eczema?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt sounds like this could be psoriasis. It could also potentially signal a problem with your thyroid glands, which you can get checked out with a blood test.Thanks!
What should I do if I burst a blister on my hand and it has not healed?
If you use a cell hone case does that block the nickel from being absorbed on your hand to avoid hand eczema?
Is homeopathy an effective treatment for POMPHOLYX?
I have had eczema on my hands now for about 2 years it always seems to come around summer time, does paw ointment help heal eczema?
- Try getting a humidifier for your bedroom, particularly in very dry climates or seasons. Keeping the air moist might help to reduce your eczema symptoms.
- Talk to your doctor if your eczema gets worse or if it does not improve with treatment.
- Keep in mind that treating eczema takes time and it may never fully go away. You will have to figure out what treatments work best for you continue to use those treatments until your eczema improves.
Sources and Citations
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