Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a condition that affects many people in many different ways. In the UK, 1 in 5 children and 1 in 12 adults have eczema.
Symptoms of hand eczema
Symptoms of hand eczema vary depending on the severity of the case. Dryness, itching, and redness are all common symptoms. The skin can also flake or become scaly, and in severe cases, it may crack, bleed or weep.
Although it may seem that scratching offers short-term relief, it will only aggravate symptoms in the long run. There is also the risk of breaking the skin and leaving it open to infection.
There is a very specific type of hand eczema called pompholyx. One of the most obvious symptoms of this kind of eczema is the appearance of watery blisters on the palms of the hands (and also the soles of the feet).
What causes eczema?
Eczema can be caused by genetics or direct contact with an irritant. The latter is frequently, but not always, the cause of dermatitis on hands. Known as contact eczema or contact dermatitis, it affects 9% of the British population.
There are a number of irritants that can cause contact dermatitis on the hands, and these include products as commonplace as soaps and detergents. Other examples include bleach, solvents, hair products, diluted acids and alkalis, resins and even cement.
Hand eczema is especially common in professions that may involve contact with chemicals and other irritants, such as hairdressing, catering, cleaning, healthcare and construction.
Contact eczema can also be caused by an allergy to a particular substance, although this is less common.
Easing hand eczema
Your doctor will advise a specific course of treatment for your individual case. A major part of managing hand eczema is often the use of emollients. These special moisturisers help to keep skin well moisturised and stop it drying out and cracking.
With contact dermatitis, there are some simple, practical tips that may help to ease symptoms. Firstly, if you come into direct contact with any substance you think might aggravate your eczema, you should immediately wash your hands. Use warm water and a fragrance-free soap substitute, then rinse and dry your hands well. Follow up with a generous application of emollient from HelloSkinShop.
Wear gloves when washing up and when using cleaning products. Plastic gloves with cotton liners are ideal, but it is best to limit use to twenty minutes at a time to stop hands from sweating and irritating your eczema.