Dyshidrotic eczema, or dyshidrosis, is a skin condition in which
blisters develop on the soles of your feet and/or the palms of your hands. The
blisters are usually itchy and may be filled with fluid. Blisters normally last
for about two to four weeks and may be related to seasonal allergies or stress.
Pictures of dyshidrotic eczema
The exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema is unknown. Experts
believe that the condition may be related to seasonal allergies, such as hay
fever, so blisters may erupt more frequently during the spring allergy season.
Who is at risk for
developing dyshidrotic eczema?
Doctors believe that you have a greater chance of developing the
condition if you’re experiencing a high level of stress (either physical or
emotional) or have allergies. Some doctors think that dyshidrotic eczema may be
a type of allergic reaction.
You may be more likely to develop dyshidrotic eczema if your
hands or feet are often moist or in water, or if your work exposes you to metal
salts, such as cobalt, chromium, and nickel.
Dyshidrotic eczema in children
Eczema is more common in children and infants than in adults.
About 10 to 20
percent have some form of eczema.
If you have dyshidrotic eczema, you’ll notice blisters forming
on your fingers, toes, hands, or feet. The blisters may be more common on the
edges of these areas and will probably be full of fluid. Sometimes, large
blisters will form, which can be particularly painful. The blisters will
usually be very itchy and may cause your skin to flake. Affected areas may
become cracked or painful to the touch.
The blisters may last up to three weeks before they begin to
dry. As the blisters dry up, they’ll turn into skin cracks that may be painful.
If you have been scratching the affected areas, you may also notice that your
skin seems thicker or feels spongy.
How is dyshidrotic
In many cases, your doctor will be able to diagnose dyshidrotic
eczema by examining your skin carefully. Because the symptoms of dyshidrotic
eczema can be similar to those of other skin conditions, your doctor may choose
to run certain tests. The tests may include a skin biopsy, which involves
removing a small patch of skin for lab testing. The biopsy can rule out other
possible causes of your blisters, such as a fungal infection.
If your doctor believes that your outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema
is directly related to allergies, they may also order allergy skin testing.
How is dyshidrotic
There are a number of ways that a dermatologist can treat
dyshidrotic eczema. The severity of your outbreak and other factors determine
which treatments they will suggest. It also may be necessary to try more than
one treatment before finding the right one for you.
Medications or medical treatments
Corticosteroid cream or ointment that you apply directly to your
skin for mild outbreaks or, for more severe outbreaks, you may be prescribed a
corticosteroid injection or pill.
Other medical treatments used are:
- UV light treatments
- draining large blisters
- various anti-itch creams
- immune-suppressing ointments, such as Protopic
and Elidel (this is a rare treatment option)
If your skin becomes infected, then you will also be prescribed
antibiotics or other medications to treat the infection.
Over the counter
If you’re having a mild outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema, your
doctor may prescribe antihistamines such as Claritin or Benadryl to help decrease
Wet, cold compresses can help reduce the discomfort associated
with itchy skin. Your doctor may recommend that you apply an ointment after you
use compresses. A moisturizer may also help with the dryness and therefore reduce
some itching as well.
These moisturizers may include:
- petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline
- heavy creams, such as Lubriderm or Eucerin
- mineral oil
- soaking with witch hazel
Changing your diet may help if medications don’t seem to be
keeping up with flare-ups. Since it is believed that a nickel or cobalt allergy
can cause eczema, removing foods that contain these may help. Some have said
that adding vitamin A to your diet will help, but be sure to ask your doctor
before doing so.
Treatment for feet
Dyshidrosis can also occur on the soles of your feet, although
it is not as common as your fingers or the palms of your hands. The treatment
for your feet is similar to the treatment for other areas.
To avoid making your pain and itching worse, try not to scratch
or break your blisters. Although it’s important to wash your hands regularly,
you may want to avoid extensive contact with water, such as frequent hand-washing.
You should also avoid using products that can irritate your skin, such as
perfumed lotions and dishwashing soap.
Complications of dyshidrotic eczema
The main complication from dyshidrotic eczema is usually the
discomfort from itching and the pain from the blisters. This can sometimes
become so severe during a flare that you are limited in how much you use your
hands or even walk on your feet. There is also the possibility of getting an
infection in these areas.
In addition, your sleep may be disrupted if the itching or pain
What can be expected in the long term?
Dyshidrotic eczema will usually disappear in a few weeks without
complications. If you don’t scratch the affected skin, it may not leave any
noticeable marks or scars.
If you scratch the affected area, you may experience more
discomfort or your outbreak may take longer to heal. You could also develop a
bacterial infection as a result of scratching and breaking your blisters.
Although your outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema may heal
completely, it can also recur. Because the cause of dyshidrotic eczema isn’t
known, doctors have yet to find ways to prevent or cure the condition.