If you have been diagnosed with dyshidrosis, you already know how itchy and painful the condition can be when the tiny blisters erupt on your hands and feet. This condition is a type of eczema that can recur throughout your lifetime. The key to living comfortable with this condition is to learn to manage the symptoms when they erupt and seek medical advice when your attempts fail.
What is Dyshidrosis?
Dyshidrosis is sometimes called dyshidrotic dermatitis or dyshidrotic eczema. This skin condition presents with tiny, itchy blisters on the hands and feet. It is most common on the outside of the fingers and on the palm of the hand or sole of the feet, but can occur in other locations. Itching may begin before the blisters erupt, but often intensifies as the blisters form. You may be able to see tiny blisters beneath the skin before they erupt. Scratching often brings the blisters to the surface and causes them to break and ooze.The skin then thickens, forming scales that later flake away, revealing red, inflamed skin beneath. Your skin may develop painful cracks.The cycle may repeat for weeks or months and then suddenly disappear and return months or even years later.
What Causes Dyshidrosis?
The cause of dyshidrosis is unknown but may be related to atopic dermatitis, explains the Mayo Clinic. Like other forms of dermatitis, the symptoms may worsen when you are under stress, contact skin irritants (like soaps and cleaners) or ingest foods you are allergic to. People with asthma or allergies may be more prone to dyshidrosis, as the symptoms are often seasonal for those who suffer from nasal allergies.
Medical Treatments for Dyshidrosis
While there is no cure for dyshidrosis, there are several common medical treatments.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroid creams or lotions may be applied to the skin to treat the blisters. While you can buy this over-the-counter, your dermatologist can prescribe a stronger version if necessary. In some cases, oral corticosteroids, such as Prednisone, may be used.
- Immune-suppressing ointments: In people who cannot use corticosteroids, immune-suppressing ointments liketacrolimus or pimecrolimus may be used, says the Mayo Clinic.
- Phototherapy: Special light therapy with ultraviolet light combined with medications is currently being used to treat dyshidrosis that is resistant to other forms of treatment.
What Else Can I Do?
While medical treatments can help clear up your symptoms, you need to do your part too. Follow these recommendations to ease the discomfort and prevent symptoms from returning.
- Wear protective gloves when washing dishes or cleaning. Keeping the hands dry and avoiding exposure to chemicals is one of the most important steps you can take.
- Use hand cream or lotion that is free of fragrance and additives. Many choose pure petroleum jelly or other natural products to soothe the skin.
- Avoid hot baths or showers and opt for lukewarm instead.
- Wear gloves when you go outside in the winter. Cold air and wind damages skin quickly and may compound your existing condition.
- Apply over-the-counter creams with coal tar in them. These are typically labeled for eczema or dermatitis and may speed the healing of your inflamed skin.
- Take an antihistamine before going to bed, especially if you tend to scratch your hands or feet in your sleep. It will quell the itch and give your hands or feet time to heal.
- Wear socks or slippers and avoid going barefoot if you develop blisters on your feet.
- Keep a notebook detailing when your symptoms are active. Note your activities, new foods or changes in shampoos, soaps and cleaning supplies. This may help you pinpoint the triggers for your symptoms.
While dyshidrosis cannot be cured, it can be managed. Talk to the dermatologist at a clinic like Desert Dermatology about your concerns to determine the right treatment options for you.