Eczema On The Hands

For anybody who has chronic eczema on the hands, I can sympathize with you whole heartedly. Of all the places on the body where dermatitis can occur, this has to be one of the worst.

Also known as hand eczema or hand dermatitis, this condition can seriously affect life, as your hands are used in so many daily life interactions.

The three most common types of eczema that appear on the hands are atopic dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, and allergic contact dermatitis. Researchers believe that many cases of eczema are work related due to irritant exposure. While certain substances contribute to this skin condition, the specific causes are still unknown.

Winter months for me were agony as the cold dried out my skin, which was then prone to cracking and splitting. When I was at school some kids tried to mock me but that was because they didn’t know what it was. They noticed eczema on my hands but once I mentioned “it’s eczema and I’m treating it” they lost interest.

Some people can be cruel at times but thats just ignorance or fear on their part. At the same time we have to manage our condition as best we can. I know its tough but ignore any hurtful remarks, focus your energy on healing yourself and having happy hands once again.

That said, let's take a closer look.

Risk Factors for Hand Eczema

Dishpan hands – Dishpan hands are a form of hand eczema. This occurs when the hands are constantly wet, which breaks down the skin’s protective outer layer. The use of dish soaps and cleansers can make hand eczema worse. To alleviate this condition, avoid getting the hands wet. Use cotton gloves around the house when doing chores and beneath rubber gloves when washing dishes.

Exposure to irritants and allergens – Certain substances can make hand eczema worse, such as latex, metals, chemicals, and skincare products. Avoid handling any known irritants and allergens without gloves.

Low humidity and cold temperatures – Because lack of moisture in the air can make hand eczema worse, use a humidifier in your house. When outdoors during cold months, wear soft, cotton gloves and avoid getting the hands wet.

Wearing rings and bracelets – When doing housework and simple chores, remove all jewelry from the hands and wrists. Irritants can become trapped underneath rings and bracelets. Also, clean your jewelry often by soaking them in a hypoallergenic solution.

Home Treatments for Hand Eczema

If you develop hand eczema, there are a few things you can do at home to help with this skin condition. These include:

  • Keep an “eczema diary” – This involves writing down activities and times when the eczema flare-ups occurred. This way you can identify triggers so that you can minimize exposure and avoid them.
  • Moisturize often – Use a fragrance-free moisturizer to protect the skin from irritants and allergens. Newer products that contain ceramide are the best. Examples include CeraVe and TriCeram.
  • Minimal exposure to natural sunlight – One form of phototherapy for hand eczema involves minimal daily exposure of the hands to natural sunlight.

Hand Eczema Medical Treatments

If home therapy fails, consult with a doctor regarding your hand eczema. Therapies that are prescribed include:

Topical corticosteroid creams and ointments

  • Tar treatments
  • Oral antihistamines
  • Psoralen and UV phototherapy
  • Oral corticosteroids
  • Immunomodulators (Elidel and Protopic)
  • Tetrix cream – A solution that provides a water-resistant barrier to protect the hands

Prevention Measures for Work-Related Hand Eczema

  • Use heavy-duty neoprene or vinyl gloves for wet work.
  • Wear leather or fabric gloves for dry work.
  • Avoid industrial hand cleansers and waterless antibacterial solutions.
  • Carry moisturizer with you at all times.
  • Keep your work clothes and work surfaces free of residue or irritants

Substances to Avoid

Check all detergents and skin care products for the following items:

  • methyldibromoglutaronitrile / phenoxyethanol
  • methylchloroisothiazolinone / methylisothiazolinone
  • fragrances (these can cause allergic reactions even if they are natural)
  • formaldehyde releasers, including:
  • formaldehyde (Formol, Methanal, Veracur, et cetera)
  • quaternium-15
  • pRopane, aka Bronopol
  • diazolidinyl urea
  • imidazolidinyl urea
  • DMDM Hydantoin


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