If you have eczema, chances are good that you’re all too familiar with the itchiness, redness, and dryness it can cause. But there’s another type of eczema that is characterized by tiny blisters on your hands and feet. It’s called dyshidrotic eczema, or pompholyx, and it can be a real pain—literally.
The word “dyshidrosis” comes from the Greek “dys-,” which means difficult or abnormal; “hidros,” which refers to sweat; and “-osis,” meaning a condition or process. So dyshidrosis literally translates as an abnormal sweating condition—and that pretty much sums up what this form of eczema is all about: Your body produces too much sweat (or more accurately, tears in the skin) resulting in those pesky little blisters. And because our hands come into contact with so many different surfaces throughout the day—doorknobs, keyboards, steering wheels —it makes sense that they are one of the most common places for dyshidrotic eczema flare-ups to occur. The same goes for our feet since we tend to wear shoes (unlike sandals), trapping moisture next to our skin where bacteria can grow unchecked leading to infection if not properly treated early on.
There is no definitive answer as to what causes dyshidrotic eczema, but there are certain triggers that can contribute to a flare-up such as stress (which leads to increased sweating), contact with metals or other irritants, seasonal changes, and even genetics. If you have a family member who suffers from this condition, your chances of developing it yourself go up significantly. And while there is currently no cure for dyshidrotic eczema, there are treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
If you think you may be suffering from dyshidrotic eczema, see your doctor or dermatologist right away so they can properly diagnose and treat the condition. In the meantime, here are some tips on how to manage outbreaks:
• Keep your hands and feet clean and dry. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to wash your hands often—especially after coming into contact with any potential irritants—and to make sure you thoroughly dry them afterward. Use a mild soap (like Dove or Cetaphil) that won’t further aggravate your skin, and consider using a humidifier in your home or office to help keep the air moist which can also be beneficial for those suffering from other forms of eczema as well.
• Apply moisturizer regularly. A good quality cream or ointment will help soothe itching and inflammation while keeping the skin hydrated—just make sure it doesn’t contain any fragrances, propylene glycol, lanolin, or other ingredients that could potentially trigger an outbreak. OTC options like petroleum jelly (Vaseline), and mineral oil/baby oil are all safe bets; however if you find yourself reaching for these more often than not, talk to your doctor about prescription options such as corticosteroids creams/ointments which can provide relief when applied directly to the affected areas 2-3 times per day over a period of several weeks. Just remember not to use these too frequently as they can thin out the skin if used excessively.
• Protect your hands (and feet). When heading outdoors during peak sunlight hours, apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed areas including dyshidrotic lesions since they tend to be more susceptible to burning and blistering than normal skin cells… If possible wear gloves when handling harsh chemicals, garden soil, etc., or anything that might cause irritation; likewise opt for open-toe shoes whenever possible giving blisters some much-needed breathing room… And although this one may be difficult depending on your occupation, try to limit exposure to excessive heat & sweating by avoiding saunas /steam rooms & hot yoga classes, and refrain from working long shifts without proper breaks in between.