What is Dyshidrotic Eczema?

This is a rare form of a skin disease that is observed in one out of five thousand people in the United States.  It is also known by four other names:  pompholyx, dyshidrosis, acute vesiculobullous hand, and cheiropompholyx.  What makes this type of eczema different from other forms of eczema is that this type is usually seen on the sides of your fingers, soles of your feet, and palm of your hands.  Although it can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, or race it is more prominent in females..

Dyshidrotic Eczema Symptoms

  • Small itchy bumps that are about the size of a pencil head
  • The bumps steadily develop into a rash consisting of tiny blisters that are filled with fluid
  • If the blisters are large there is some pain but not much with the smaller ones.
  • Intense itching and irritation
  • Redness, inflammation, and having a burning sensation
  • Although the blisters do not break easily but after they burst, there is cracking and peeling of your skin
  • Severe dryness of your skin from the fluid that comes from blisters after they burst. ¬†It causes your skin to crust and can eventually become so dry your skin will crack. ¬†If this happens it can take many months to heal.
  • Fingernail problems and infection of the nails
  • Skin changes such as thickening of your skin that can be triggered by scratching in advanced cases.

The blisters that are associated with dyshidrotic eczema will normally last for three weeks.


Physicians do not know what causes dyshidrotic eczema but there are some triggers that can set it off.  The word dyshidrotic means bad sweating leading to the belief in the beginning that this skin condition was a disorder of the sweat gland but many of the people who suffer from dyshidrotic eczema do not experience sweating that is excessive and the fluid inside the blisters is not sweat either.  The fluid in the blisters is actually serum which is a liquid that comes from your blood vessels.Some of the possible triggers can include:

  • In some people the trigger is actually excessive sweating
  • Chlorinated water
  • Sunlight
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to caffeine, foods with high nickel content, dust mites, and alcohol
  • Exposure to detergents, soap with sodium laurel sulfate, hand sanitizing product, water based applications, raw meat, or fruit juice
  • Genetic factors
  • Stress
  • Long exposure to certain chemical like nickel, cobalt, chromium in the workplace.
  • Changes in the weather with winter being more problematic for some people.

Some feel that is caused by an autoimmune disorder which is where your body’s own immune system attacks the healthy cells of your skin.


If it is not treated the blisters can erupt and become infected so this is why you need to treat it.  In order to treat your case of dyshidrotic eczema it is important to know what is causing the outbreak.   If it is caused by stress your physician or dermatologist can help with stress counseling.  You may also need to make dietary changes.  The symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema can be treated with topical remedies like white vinegar, using a saline solution, aloe vera, lavender oil, or a plantain oil preparation. Sometimes they will use medication, topical steroids, or light treatment.  When washing the areas that are affected you should not wash them in hot water or use soap on the areas of dyshidrotic eczema because this can make the condition worse.  If your skin has started to crack you can cover it with a Band-Aid brand liquid bandage to help it heal better.In addition to treating your outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema if you know what the triggers are you need to make sure that you are avoiding them.  If you are not sure what triggers it you can try eliminating different things that you might feel are triggers until you find the right trigger(s).

Treating with medication

This form of treatment usually involves using antihistamines and anti-itch creams to help reduce the inflammation and severe itching that is associated with dyshidrotic eczema.  Two of the antihistamines that are usually used are Claritin or Benadryl.  You can also use topical steroid creams, over-the-counter or by prescription, that contain zinc oxide or cortisone.  If there is a secondary bacterial infection you may have to take antibiotics.  If these treatment options do not work you may have to take immunosuppressive medication like tacrolimus or pimecrolimus.

Treating with PUVA Therapy

PUVA stands for psoralen combined with ultraviolet and is a special type of UV treatment.  This treatment involves soaking the area that is affected in psoralen solution and then exposing it to long wave ultraviolet A radiation on a short term basis.  If you use it for long-term it can increase your risk of developing cancer.  When you use this treatment you have to comply with the precautionary instructions or measures that are given by your dermatologist.  If you have adverse reactions or skin changes during the treatment you need to let your dermatologist know.

Treating with natural remedies

  • Soak the area that is affected in a white vinegar soak, a diluted potassium permanganate solution, or seat salt to help relieve the itch, dryness, and scaling. ¬†You need to soak the affect area for forty minutes two times a day.
  • Moisturize your feet and hands regularly with a mild moisturizer
  • Bathe in an oatmeal bath.
  • Apply coconut oil or flaxseed oil to the area that is affected to soften and smooth your skin
  • Sun bathe for a short period of time
  • To help soothe the affected area apply aloe Vera gel or a cold compress

Is dyshidrotic eczema contagious?

It is not contagious and you cannot spread it just by simple contact with someone who has it.

Dyshidrotic Eczema Pictures

May 19, 2014
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