Are your hands just dry or do you have eczema? – Consumer Health News
Hand eczema could be the culprit, with painful, dry, itchy skin on all or part of the hand and fingers.
“If your hands are extremely dry and sore and using moisturizer throughout the day doesn’t help relieve them, you may have hand eczema,” said dermatologist Dr. Dawn Davis. pediatric and adult at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Without the proper treatment and preventative measures, hand eczema can get worse.”
Eczema could look like red, dark brown, purple or gray patches of irritated skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It can be scaly, inflamed and itchy. It may feel burning or include itchy blisters and deep, painful cracks, as well as scabs, pus, and bleeding or weeping skin.
“Hand eczema can erupt from a variety of triggers,” Davis said in an academy press release. “Some patients will see increased irritation in cooler, drier temperatures, while for others the condition may worsen in warmer months due to sweating. A trigger or flare for a patient may be different from flare-ups or triggers for other patients.”
Breakouts can result from improperly dried wet hands or an allergic reaction, such as to latex or metal jewelry. People who had eczema (atopic dermatitis) as children have a higher risk of developing hand eczema. Chemicals like solvents, detergents and cement can increase the risk.
Prevent breakouts by using a gentle hand or hypoallergenic cleanser, not washing too frequently, and making sure to rinse off any excess cleanser, Davis said. Rinse well between fingers where cleanser may accumulate.
Also, gently dry hands with a towel instead of air-drying them, she suggested. Use fragrance-free creams and ointments instead of lotions.
“At the heart of all eczema treatments is a sensitive skincare routine,” Davis said. “It is important to note that patients with hand eczema can also have foot eczema. These are parts of the body that we use often and as such are often exposed to damage from our environment and chemicals and objects that we use in our daily lives. They both have thick skin along the palms and soles of the feet, which protects the skin, but can also be difficult to moisturize.”
It may help to apply petroleum jelly to the affected area before bed or a thick moisturizer often throughout the day, Davis said.
Also, wear gloves when you might encounter irritants.
Some people with eczema will use a vinegar soak, also called an acetic acid dressing solution.
“After preparing the solution, the patient dips a washcloth in the mixture, wrings it out, wraps the washcloth around his hand like a burrito, then puts a white sock on his hand for several hours or before going to bed” , Davis said.
A dermatologist can also offer advice and treatment.
“It is important that people seek treatment for hand eczema so that their skin does not become infected which can lead to cellulitea common and potentially serious bacterial skin infection,” Davis said.
“If you think you have hand eczema and home treatments aren’t providing relief, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist,” she recommended.
The National Eczema Association has more on hand eczema.
SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, press release, September 27, 2022
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